This book began as a venture to collect official and unofficial documents relating to the interval of American military rule. There proved to be thousands, the writings of Presidents, executive officers, and congressmen, naval and military personnel, governors, settlers, and citizens-routine, familiar, wheedling, seductive, blustering, commanding. As the quantity grew, they seemed eager to be heard. But the documents exhibit the traits of their makers. Containing neither the whole truth nor nothing but the truth, they offer many-sided versions of what people believed or wanted others to accept; they must be taken with a grain of salt. Long, sometimes garbled, and always incomplete, the record requires assessment, a referee to appraise the evidence and form his own imperfect conclusions. And any curious or dissenting reader may, by consulting the numerous cited sources, make his own interpretations. References, whenever possible, have been made to materials in some printed form, leading an inquirer to a vast array of historical evidence.
Everything herein happened, or so the record tells, and if an assumption has been made, it is that men, issues, and events can be interesting in their own right, without exaggeration. “To exaggerate,” a knowing urban child recently observed, “means you put in something to make it more exciting” (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 10, 1978).