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JSPES, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring 2012)
pp. 94-135

Herbert Hoover’s “Secret History of World War II” – and Some Reflections it Prompts

Dwight D. Murphey

Wichita State University, retired

Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath, Herbert Hoover, edited by George H. Nash
Hoover Institution Press, 2011

Long held in storage by the Hoover family but just recently released, former U.S. President Herbert Hoover’s “secret history” of World War II, written between 1944 and 1963 and now edited by Hoover historian George H. Nash, sheds light on “nineteen gigantic errors” of strategy and geopolitics that Hoover saw as having been committed by the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman starting with the diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union in 1933. The result is a “revisionist history” that runs counter to the image of “the good war” that was created by the Allied perspective during the war and that has remained the conventional perception. Hoover’s account and the reflections to which it gives rise have particular relevance today because they bear directly on the perception entertained by Americans, so important to both neoconservatism and neoliberalism, that the many foreign interventions by the United States are benign because they are wellintentioned. This article will review highlights of the history as Hoover relates it and will ponder some of the implications that so greatly contradict today’s conventional wisdom about the war and its aftermath.