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Contact: Jacqline Barnes

jbarnes@usni.org; 410-295-1028


The Reporter Who Spilled the Secret Behind the U.S. Navys Victory
at Midway
In this gripping narrative, Elliot Carlson carefully stitches together
the pieces of a complex and compelling story of war, secrecy, and
journalism to explain how a charming scoundrel with a colorful
background nearly exposed the U.S. Navys most important secret
of World War II.
Craig L. Symonds, author of The Battle of Midway; Ernest J.
King Professor of Maritime History, U.S. Naval War College

In Stanley Johnsons Blunder, Elliot Carlson has pierced the

carapace of the decades-long myth of the purported Chicago
Tribunes compromise of the U.S. Navys codebreaking success at
the Battle of Midway. Crisply written and meticulously researched,
Carlson exposes the patchwork censorship system during World
War II and the Navys overreactionitself nearly exposing the
secret. Stanley Johnsons Blunder is both a lesson and a case study
for todays journalists and security personnel.
Robert J. Hanyok, historian of Pacific War cryptology and
co-author of West Wind Clear: Cryptology and the Winds
Message ControversyA Documentary History

In Stanley Johnston's Blunder, Elliot Carlson tells the story of

Stanley Johnston, a Chicago Tribune reporter who may have
exposed a vitally important U.S. naval secret during World War II long before leakers were making the

In 1942, Johnston was embarked in the aircraft carrier USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea. In
addition to recording the crew's doomed effort to save the ship, Johnston displayed great heroism, rescued many
endangered officers and men from the sea and earned the praise of the Lexington's senior officers. They even
recommended him for a medal. Then his story darkened. On board the rescue ship Barnett, Johnston was
assigned to a cabin where messages from the Pacific Fleet commander, Admiral Chester Nimitz, were
routinelyand carelesslycirculated. One revealed the order of battle of Imperial Japanese Navy forces as
they advanced on Midway Atoll. Containing information obtained by the Navy's code breakers, this dispatch
was stamped Top Secret. Yet it was casually passed around to some of the Lexington's officers in the cabin
while Johnston is present.

Carlson captured the outrage among U.S. Navy brass when they read the 7 June 1942 Chicago Tribune front-
page headline, NAVY HAD WORD OF JAP PLAN TO STRIKE AT SEA. Admirals noted that the
information in the Tribune article paralleled almost precisely the highly secret material in Nimitz's dispatch.
They feared Japanese commanders would discover the article, grasp that their code had been cracked, and
quickly change it, thereby depriving the U.S. Navy of a priceless military asset. When Navy officials confirmed
that Johnston wrote the story after residing in that Barnett stateroom, they thought they understood the leak.

Drawing on seventy-five-year-old testimony never before released, Carlson takes readers inside the grand jury
room where jurors convened by the Roosevelt administration considered charges that Johnston violated the
Espionage Act. Jurors heard conflicting testimony from Navy officers while Johnston claimed his story came
from his own knowledge of the Japanese navy.

Using FBI files, U.S. Navy records, archival materials from the Chicago Tribune, and Japanese sources,
Carlson, at last, brings to light the full story of Stanley Johnston's trial. In a current political climate where the
media is constantly questioned for being a legitimate source of knowledge, this book couldnt be timelier.

ELLIOT CARLSON is a longtime journalist who has worked for such newspapers as the Honolulu Advertiser,
the Wall Street Journal, and the AARP Bulletin. Carlson is the author of the Chief of Naval Operation's reading
list title, Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway.

Publication date: 15 October 2017 | ISBN: 9781591146797

Hardcover & eBook: $29.95 | 352 pages | 37 b/w photos

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