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Road to Pearl Harbor: The Coming of the War Between the United States and Japan

Road to Pearl Harbor: The Coming of the War Between the United States and Japan

Copyright Date: 1950
Pages: 368
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    Road to Pearl Harbor: The Coming of the War Between the United States and Japan
    Book Description:

    This is a probing narrative of the history which came to its climax at Pearl harbor; an account of the attitudes and actions, of the purposes and persons which brought about the war between the United States and Japan.

    It is full and impartial. Though written as an independent and private study, records and information of an exceptional range and kind were used in its making. These give it authority. They include all the pertinent State Department papers; the American official military records in preparation; selections from the Roosevelt papers at Hyde Park; the full private diaries of Stimons, Morgenthau, and Grew; the file of the intercepted "Magic" cables; and equivalent collections of official and private Japanese records. The author was at the time in the State Department (as Adviser on International Economic Affairs) and thus in close touch with the men and matters of which he writes.

    In telling how this war came about, this book tells much of how other wars happen. For it is a close study of the ways in which officials, diplomats, and soldiers think and act; of the environment of decision, of the ambitions of nations, of the clash of their ideas, of the way sin which fear and mistrust affect events, and of the struggle for time and advantage.

    The narrative follows events in a double mirror of which one side is Washington and the other Tokyo, and synchronizes the images. Thus it traces the ways in which the acts and decisions of this country influenced Japan and vice versa.

    Originally published in 1971.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6828-5
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. PREFACE (pp. v-x)
    H. F.
  3. Table of Contents (pp. xi-xii)
    • CHAPTER 1 The Arc of Opposition (pp. 3-7)

      Japan, from its seat on the small island of Honshu, wanted to be arbiter of Asia and the Western Pacific. The wish throve in poverty and pride, finding company in thoughts which made it seem just. The Japanese people came to believe that the extension of their control over this vast region was both natural and destined; that the other people living there needed the guardianship of Japan as much as Japan needed them. The Japanese armies sailed across the China seas under a banner which proclaimed peace, justice, and partnership for all. The bayonets were merely to expel the...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Last, Lost Good Chance: 1937 (pp. 8-16)

      When, in July 1937, the Japanese Army marched into China, we were trying to make foreign policy out of morality and neutrality alone. These neither prevented the advent of trouble nor provided effective ways of dealing with trouble.

      As instance of our attitude at this time, take the exchange between the British government and ourselves, not long before Japan entered China. Neville Chamberlain, on succeeding Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister, found himself heir to a stack of notes in which the American government set forth a creed for all the world. After brief study he sent comment quizzical. No matter...

    • CHAPTER 3 1937-39: Japan Goes Deeper into the Stubble (pp. 17-24)

      The war in China dragged on. The Japanese Army went deeper and farther into the stubble. By the middle of 1939 they had gained control of the five northeastern provinces (as far south and west as Kansu) and down into Central China through Hankow. They had won the main port cities along the Chinese coasts, and the islands off them.

      But still Japan could not bring the struggle to an end, either by strata gem or force. Terror did not wipe out resistance in the front and the rear and at the sides. Nor yet soft words, secret pay for...

    • CHAPTER 4 The Dismay of the Japanese Strategists: August, 1939 (pp. 25-37)

      Hiranuma, gaunt in speech as in look, upon hearing of the German-Russian pact remarked that this turn of events was “intricate and baffling.” Well he might think so. For Japan was in a very different spot from the one in which it had planned to be. To see why, we must look back into the record.

      The original impetus towards an alliance with Germany had come from a wish to have allies in the struggle against Communist and Russian activities and influence in East Asia.¹ But the sponsors were not unaware that a loose association with that country might serve...

    • CHAPTER 5 Separation but Still not Enmity: the Winter of 1939–40 (pp. 38-46)

      Japan continued to seek a new order in East Asia, but by itself and with shrunken notions. On August 26 the Japanese Ambassador in Washing ton, Horinouchi, paid a call of contrition upon Hull. This was three days after the signature of the German-Soviet Pact and two days before the Hiranuma Cabinet gave up office. He said that his government had decided to abandon all negotiations with Germany and Italy, and that he expected that Japan would have to adopt a different line of foreign policy.

      The Ambassador found that this turn was regarded in Washington as an accident, not...

    • CHAPTER 6 The First Waves of German Victory Reach the Southwest Pacific: April, 1940 (pp. 49-55)

      With the treaty out of the way, those who believed that Japan should and could be forced to change its course, became more active. Their views were most ably advanced by Henry L. Stimson, former Secretary of State. As always, his words commanded respect. For they were imbued with a sense of great things, not small; of courage and the duty of a country as strong as the United States.

      His letter printed in theNew York Timesof January 11, 1940, still gives today—as it did then—the impression of a stern and sure fullback going through the...

    • CHAPTER 7 The Grave Dilemma Before the United States: May, 1940 (pp. 56-65)

      The President and the Secretary of State sought first of all to remove any real reason for Japanese action against the Indies. Thus, at once, on May 10, Hull proposed to Lord Lothian that both their governments again assure Japan that they would not disturb the status of, or in, the East Indies. Before London responded, word came from Tokyo that Arita had summoned the German, Italian, French, and British Ambassadors to tell them that events in Europe had sharpened Japanese concern over these Dutch colonies. Afraid that this was the signal for Japanese action (planned, and perhaps even already...

    • CHAPTER 8 Japan Starts on the Road South: June, 1940 (pp. 66-71)

      During the second half of June the Yonai Cabinet (1) served demands on the Pétain government to allow a Japanese military mission to operate in Indo-China, (2) asked the government of the East Indies to guarantee the continued supply of raw materials wanted by Japan, (3) threatened the British government with war unless it took its troops out of Shanghai, and closed the frontier between Hong Kong and China and the road from Burma into China. By these measures China would be cut off from all the outside world. American loans would no longer be of use. The air lift...

    • CHAPTER 9 The American Government Forbears (pp. 72-75)

      The National Defense Act was passed because of our own prospective needs. In May, after the German invasion of the West began, a program had been drawn up vastly to enlarge all branches of our military establishment. While it was before a still blinking Congress, the Army urged the insertion of a section that would permit the President to keep at home all products that might be needed for defense. The proposal was submitted to the State Department.

      For Hull it was a mark of defeat: the very contrary of the trade policies through which he had sought to bring...

    • CHAPTER 10 Japan Selects a New Government (pp. 76-83)

      The Yonai Cabinet had lived from the start in a state of transient tenancy. The lack of a treaty with the United States was like the lack of a lease. At any time its whole program, civil and military, might be disturbed by notice from Washington, while intrigue went on all around it.

      May and June had gone, as has been told, in trying to splice together the fraying strands of friendship with the United States. But the attempt came to nothing; the American government could not be brought to take a consenting view of Japanese aims. After Holland and...

    • CHAPTER 11 Japan Stencils Its Policy in Indelible Ink: July, 1940 (pp. 84-87)

      The chief figures in the new cabinet began to confer even before they were formally invested with power. Germany might quickly accomplish the defeat of Britain or peace might be made between them. In either event Japan might find that the best chance to bargain had come and gone. This thought made for haste and zeal. On the evening of July 19 the Foreign Minister and the Ministers of War and the Navy met with the Prime Minister at his house at Ogikubo. There the ideas of those who wanted to move fast and the ideas of the more cautious...

    • CHAPTER 12 Our First Firm Counteraction (pp. 88-94)

      On the same day (allowing for the time difference) that the Konoye Cabinet adopted plans to make the Empire independent, the American government brought home the fact that it was not. On July 25 (Washington time) the President announced that henceforth all exports of scrap metals and oils from the United States would be subject to license. No secret intelligence about Japanese affairs, of the sort that was had later, guided the timing of this statement. It was a swipe in a general direction, and not an exactly clocked and aimed blow. Its history is strange and worth the telling....

    • CHAPTER 13 Maneuver and Resistance (pp. 95-100)

      The Konoye Cabinet read no lesson in the orders about oil and scrap iron. Or, if it did, only to the effect that there was still an area of action which could be entered without risk of war against either the local defenders or the United States. It still felt itself free to push on with the program for the New Order in East Asia, despite the injunction contained in the resolution of the Imperial Conference of July 26–27 “to solve the problem of the South within such scope as would not lead to war with other powers.”


    • CHAPTER 14 We Stop the Shipment of Scrap Iron (pp. 101-109)

      Provoking as the situation was, Hull thought it might be made worse. Until the outcome of the battle of the air above Britain was known, any decision as to whether or not to end the shipment of war materials to Japan seemed to him blind. If the Royal Air Force continued to do well, it would become safer, if not safe, to strike at the explosive center of Japan's position. If those brave squadrons were exhausted, it would, he thought, turn out to have been reckless to do so. So Hull wanted to wait. He asked time of the Secretary...

    • CHAPTER 15 The Making of the Alliance with the Axis: September, 1940 (pp. 110-121)

      The conclusion of the Tripartite Pact (as this agreement of September 27, 1940, among Japan, Germany, and Italy was called) was a best kept secret. American officials knew there was much chance some pact of the kind would be signed. Was it not plainly implied even in the published version of the Outline of the Basic National Policy adopted by the Imperial Conference on July 26? Were not the three countries already concerting their strategy? But all accounts of what was in the wind lacked convincing detail. None gave actual traces of the negotiation. In short, the project of such...

    • CHAPTER 16 We Draw Closer to Britain (pp. 122-132)

      Secretary Hull took quick care to dispel any wisps of belief that the pact was a surprise, or that it would deflect American policy. After talking with the President, he made a statement to the press, which centered on the point that “the reported agreement of alliance does not, in the view of the Government of the United States, substantially alter a situation which has existed for several years.”¹ This was a permissible way of making the best of bad news. But it hid subdued regret. Despite the signs that the Konoye Cabinet wanted German easement for its ends, hope...

    • CHAPTER 17 After Our Elections: Steps towards a Concerted Program (pp. 133-144)

      November 1940; the Roosevelt administration was safely confirmed in power. It could properly construe the election result as approval of its opposition to the Axis and its support of Britain short of war. But, because of the terms in which he had expounded these policies during the campaign, the President was obliged still to move warily and on the slant. The words spoken during the election contest lived on to complicate and confine decision for the times ahead.

      Americans had been told that they need not take part in the battles then being fought in Europe and Asia and that...

    • CHAPTER 18 Matsuoka Pursues the Great Combination (pp. 145-149)

      Matsuoka had wasted no time in pursuing the search for the grand combination which would hold the United States in check. The Soviet Union was the missing number. The quicker to make headway, Matsuoka had changed his Ambassador at Moscow, sending a jovial officer, General Tatekawa. This appointee announced before his arrival what his way of dealing with the Soviet government would be: “I will simply say, ‘Tovarich, Molotoff!’ and start getting acquainted with the Soviet big shots. I have no use for Communists but I like Russians. They are pure-minded and simple.”¹ Perhaps it was those qualities which made...

    • CHAPTER 19 At the Same Time Japan Continues to Seek the Best Road South (pp. 150-152)

      The scheme and schedule of Japanese operations showed up in the Indies, Indo-China, and Thailand.

      In the Indies, the Japanese mission did not accept the rebuff, earlier recounted, as final. On January 16 it again advanced with vigor all the requests made the previous autumn, and added some new ones.¹ The Indies authorities were still without assurance that they would be helped if the Japanese sent ships and troops to enforce their wishes. They knew that even if Britain wished to aid, its forces in the Far East were of small account and tied down to the defense of Singapore....

    • CHAPTER 20 Diplomacy by Gesture and Signal: American Policy in the Winter of 1940–41 (pp. 153-162)

      The face which the American government showed Japan, while it weighed these events in the East, is well exemplified by extracts from two of Hull's statements. Appearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives on January 15, 1941, in connection with the Lend-Lease Act, he said, in part: “It has been clear throughout that Japan has been actuated from the start by broad and ambitious plans for establishing herself in a dominant position in the entire region of the Western Pacific. Her leaders have openly declared their determination to achieve and maintain that position by force of...

    • CHAPTER 21 We Reach a World-Wide Strategic Accord with Britain: March, 1941 (pp. 165-170)

      Military cooperation between the British Commonwealth and the United States up to this spring of 1941 was only a favored concept.¹ It was about to be converted into a plan and program.

      This was the natural issue of our foreign policy. The critic, to merit attention, must quarrel not with it but with the decision to uphold Britain and resist the expansion of Japan—at the risk of war. Three purposes deriving from these policies called for the joint military planning which was now begun. First, to devise ways by which, without actual American entry into the war, essential sea...

    • CHAPTER 22 Hull and Nomura Begin the Search for Formulas of Peace (pp. 171-179)

      In a letter which Admiral Stark sent to his fleet commanders just after the Washington conferences ended, he wrote, “The question as to our entry into the war now seems to bewhen,and notwhether.”¹ But this was not accepted as a foregone conclusion either by the President or the State Department. They were at the same time trying to build another ladder for history. That one would lead back to peace and order in the Far East, and friendship between the United States and Japan.

      Hull and Nomura began work upon it in their first earnest talk of...

    • CHAPTER 23 Matsuoka Goes to Berlin and Moscow, and Returns with a Neutrality Pact (pp. 180-187)

      The first three months of 1941; but in the other part of the forest. It has been told how Britain, preparing for the onsurge of the German armies (over the Balkans, and at the east and west ends of the Mediterranean) greatly feared Japanese intentions. An attack on Singapore was, in fact, closely contemplated—in Berlin with ardor, in Tokyo with qualms. The Nazi war leaders were most eager to have Japan strike at the British position in the Far East. This action, they reckoned, would help Germany whether or not the United States joined the defense. If it did,...

    • CHAPTER 24 The Two Faces of Japanese Diplomacy Glare at One Another: April, 1941 (pp. 188-195)

      When Hitler was told that Japan had signed this pact with Russia, he put on a mask.¹ He was extremely angry; but he half hid the feeling from both the Japanese and his own circle. In a meeting with his military leaders on April 20, he told them that the Russo-Japanese pact had been concluded with Germany's acquiescence.² The fact, he added, that it was known that Matsuoka consulted him shortly before signing would cause Russia to be off guard and to act with great correctness. Further, it was to be expected that, having gained this protection, Japan would soon...

    • CHAPTER 25 Would Japan Stand Still While We Extended Ourselves in the Atlantic? The Spring of 1941 (pp. 196-201)

      The line of our drive was still in the Atlantic, the line of watch in the Pacific. American policy was being shaped to fit, edge to edge, fighting Britain’s needs. At times during this spring of 1941 it seemed that our help was neither bold nor great enough to save Britain. This might have proven to be the case had Hitler, instead of turning upon Russia, acted with full strength in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. But the President was confined by his own evasions, beset by opposition, and faced by accusations that he was wilfully leading the country into...

    • CHAPTER 26 Japan Chafes and Germany Invades the Soviet Union: May-June, 1941 (pp. 202-208)

      Matsuoka was being offensive. On May 14, on seeing Grew for the first time since his sojourn in Berlin and Moscow, his jumbled candor turned into insult. Hitler he thought patient and forbearing in not declaring war on the United States. If war came because of our naval activities in the Atlantic, the United States, in his judgment, would be the aggressor; and he had no doubt that, under Article III of the Tri partite Pact, Japan would be compelled to fight us also. To make the charge complete, he added that he thought that the “ ‘manly, decent and...

    • CHAPTER 27 Japan Makes the Crucial Decision: July 2, 1941 (pp. 209-218)

      The Japanese government had many hints that Germany and Russia were at odds—some as broad as Ribbentrop’s subtlety. In Berlin, it had been dinned into Matsuoka that war was not out of the question as a necessary step of defense against Russia. Maybe he was misled by this manner of statement, or maybe not. Before his arrival in Tokyo he does not seem to have worried much about the event—either because he did not believe it would happen or because he did not mind its happening. Other members of the government, including Tojo, were inclined to think the...

    • CHAPTER 28 The Konoye Cabinet Resigns—to Get Rid of Matsuoka (pp. 219-226)

      But, alas, the American government had even less faith than before in the formulas presented. For it learned the gist of the decisions made on July 2 through an intercepted circular message from the Japanese Foreign Office.¹

      The screen of Japanese diplomacy was now down. Through the lenses of “Magic” the American government watched what was going on behind it. Only the pure of heart and honest of mind could qualify well under such exposure. The government of Japan did not.

      This secret knowledge enabled the American government to foresee the advance into Indo-China and to trace its execution. But...

    • CHAPTER 29 The United States and Britain Prepare to Impose Sanctions (pp. 227-235)

      In Washington, one passage in the intercepted summary of the program adopted on July 2 had been underscored: “Preparations for southward advance shall be reenforced and the policy already decided upon with reference to French Indo-China and Thailand shall be executed.”¹

      Until this occurred the government had continued to reject all proposals for anticipatory action in the Pacific. Thus when, on June 27, Halifax and Casey urged that events be no longer left to drift, no direct answer had been given. Hull had sidled away from the alternatives they broached: either to awe Japan by joint embargoes and sending our...

    • CHAPTER 30 We Freeze Japan’s Funds (pp. 236-241)

      On the next day, the 24th, the radio reported that Japanese warships had appeared off Camranh Bay, and that twelve troop transports were on their way south from Hainan.

      In the morning a home defense group, the Volunteer Participation Committee, was brought to the White House by Mayor La Guardia. Great men make great occasions of small visits. Now the President chose to talk about a subject upon which the probing reporters had been unable to get him to comment—oil for Japan. Adopting the tone of a primary school teacher, he seemed to be chatting for the sole purpose...

    • CHAPTER 31 Was Japan to Have Any More Oil? (pp. 242-250)

      But this belief fluctuated. It alternated with its opposite—that Japan would fight no matter what. Hence weeks of wavering about the line to follow in applying the freezing order. Should the American government be lenient or severe in the issue of licenses to use “frozen” dollars to pay for Japanese purchases ? Should Japan be allowed to get some oil P It was decided that it should be left to hope and guess, and that we would be guided by its further behavior.

      The Acting Secretary of State did not clarify our intentions. Nor did the other officials of...

    • CHAPTER 32 The Choice Before Japan Is Defined; and Konoye Seeks a Meeting with Roosevelt (pp. 251-254)

      The freezing order propelled the Japanese authorities into another urgent round of conferences. All thought that the United States was being wilfully unjust; none advocated that Japan give in. But all, except Tojo and the Army heads, were worried; despite their bitter feeling they were glad to have Konoye keep on trying to change our attitude.

      On July 28 the Privy Council met, first alone, and then in the Emper or’s presence, to consider the Protocol that had been forced upon the Vichy government for the joint defense of Indo-China. This ruled out Roosevelt’s proposal that the country be neutralized....

    • CHAPTER 33 Roosevelt Meets Churchill; Argentia and After: August 1941 (pp. 255-260)

      The rendezvous in a Newfoundland bay had been arranged by Hopkins in London. Though Roosevelt and Churchill had drawn close in the conduct of the war, this was the first time they met as President and Prime Minister. The Far Eastern situation was one of the main items in their talk.¹

      Churchill brought along an incisive opinion and proposal. Only two weeks before he had thought, so Hopkins reported, that Japan would not risk war unless Britain seemed about to be beaten. Now he again seemed alarmed lest it would. Perhaps the change was the aftermath of the freezing action;...

    • CHAPTER 34 The Japanese High Command Demands That the Issue with the United States Be Faced and Forced (pp. 261-270)

      Few days passed that the Japanese did not speak bitterly to Grew or Hull about the American freezing order—particularly because it deprived Japan of oil.¹ The Secretary’s way, and Roosevelt’s also, was to make as little as possible of this ban.² When the reproaches did not end, Hull answered that Japan had forced the United States to do what it was doing in its own defense. Japan could, he insisted, undo the situation by behaving like a peaceful and law-abiding nation.

      There was still no formal or obligatory accord between the American and foreign governments about the maintenance of...

    • CHAPTER 35 The Idea of a Roosevelt-Konoye Meeting Dies; the Deadlock Is Complete: October, 1941 (pp. 271-281)

      Those who were reading the “Magic” intercepts, could have been in no doubt that the Japanese government was in the throes of a most critical decision. Items such as the following in one of Toyoda’ cables to Nomura must have spoken for themselves: “Now the international situation as well as our internal situation is strained in the extreme and we have reached the point where we will pin our last hopes on an interview between the Premier and President. . .”¹ The secret insight was confirmation—if any were needed—of the urgent pleas and warnings that Grew and Craigie...

    • CHAPTER 36 The Army Insists on a Decision for War; Konoye Quits; Tojo Takes Over (pp. 282-288)

      In the statement of policy approved at the Imperial Conference of September 6, the men of peace and the men of war had each written a part. The time for the curtain call was set. The actors read over Clause 3: “If by the early part of October there is no reasonable hope of having our demands agreed to in the diplomatic negotiations mentioned above, we will immediately make up our minds to get ready for war against America (and England and Holland).”

      Diplomacy was lost in the wings. The view gained force that there was nothing more that Japan...

    • CHAPTER 37 The Last Offers to the United States Are Formulated: November 5, 1941 (pp. 291-297)

      The new cabinet took over on October 18. Tojo was promoted to be a full general and allowed to remain on active service. This enabled him to retain the post of Minister of War, as well as that of Prime Minister. He also kept for himself the office of Home Minister, in charge of the internal police. Oikawa, the Navy Minister, gave way to Admiral Shimada, a less resistant man. Admiral Toyoda was replaced as Foreign Minister by Togo, a senior member of the diplomatic service who had been cool to the alliance with Germany. He had qualms about serving...

    • CHAPTER 38 November: The American Government Stands Fast and Hurries Its Preparations (pp. 298-306)

      The character of the new cabinet caused concern rather than surprise. The name and image of Tojo were disliked, and unpleasant events were expected to follow.¹ He was the small, wiry and tough soldier who had pounded his way into the heart of China. The Far Eastern Division of the State Department was disposed to think that, as Prime Minister, he might think less of making war and more of making peace. But the President and all the War Council thought this unlikely. They added up the evidence in hand, wondering how much longer they could hold Japan in check....

    • CHAPTER 39 Japan’s Final Proposal for a Truce Is Weighed and Found Wanting (pp. 307-319)

      Kurusu arrived in Washington. A clipper brought him, and his flight across the Pacific was watched as though he were a bird whose coming could bring fair weather or foul. But the government knew that he was only a trained expositor of matters already decided.

      Hull on the 17th introduced him to the President. The ensuing talk was only a snarled survey of the area of dissension. The President did not sprinkle his words with geniality, as he usually had with Nomura. There was no liking either for the man or for his mission. As for the man, Hull spoke...

    • CHAPTER 40 As Stubborn as Ever; the American Answer, November 26, 1941 (pp. 320-325)

      Hull wrote out what he proposed to say to the President: “In view of the opposition of the Chinese Government and either the half-hearted support or the actual opposition of the British, the Netherlands and the Australian Governments, and in view of the wide publicity of the opposition and of the additional opposition that will naturally follow through utter lack of an understanding of the vast importance and value otherwise of themodus vivendi,without in any way departing from my views about the wisdom and the benefit of this step to all the countries opposed to the aggressor nations...

    • CHAPTER 41 The Last Arrangements and Formalities for War (pp. 326-332)

      There, the resolution approved at the Imperial Conference on November 5 dictated the future. It had followed a pattern set by earlier use; a pattern cut to suit divided authority. Time and again since 1931 the more aggressive elements in Japan, especially the Army, had set a mark. Having done so, they allowed diplomacy a short time to reach this mark by persuasion, guile, or threat. Meanwhile the armed forces got ready to act if diplomacy failed. The advances into China and Indo-China had been arranged that way. Once again the Army had agreed to give diplomacy a last chance....

    • CHAPTER 42 The Clasp of War Is Closed (pp. 333-342)

      During the last few days of somber waiting the President faced three entwined questions. First: should he promise the British and Dutch that the United States would join them if Japanese forces attacked their territories or crossed certain bounds ? Second: should he so warn Japan—openly or secretly? Third: should he inform Congress about the fastcoming crisis and the action he proposed to take?

      The President, at one time or another, was on the point of doing each or all of these things. After listening, to Hull most especially, he did none of them. His mind could not settle...

  8. Index (pp. 343-356)