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At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor
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At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,569 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Decades after the attack that plunged America into WWII, At Dawn We Slept remains the greatest account of Pearl Harbor ever written. This gripping study scrupulously reconstructs the Japanese attack, from its conception (less than a year before the actual raid) to its lightning execution; & it reveals the true reason for the American debacle: the insurmountable disbeli ...more
Hardcover, 873 pages
Published November 1st 1981 by Mcgraw-Hill Book Co. (NYC)
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Matt
Nearly seventy years after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to usher the United States into World War II, the event has started to lose its identity as a historical moment. Instead, like Waterloo before it, it has become a metaphor, and worse, political shorthand for those with limited intellect looking for maximum effect. After the September 11th attacks, we heard the terrorist attacks were a "second Pearl Harbor". More recently, health care reform has also been likened to Pearl Harbor (Dear Se ...more
Erik Graff
Apr 14, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: WWII fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
As the description indicates, this is an exhaustive account of the Pearl Harbor attack. Much attention is paid to the issue of culpability as regards both the US naval and army commands as well as the administration of President Roosevelt itself. Prange argues against the Beard Thesis and exonerates FDR.
David
This is excellent. It holds your interest despite being HUGE. He pulls together the whole story every every point of view. I got three big points from this book.
1] The US Europe first was our idea. I had always those clever Churchill had talked us into it. It was one of the top men in the Navy. The thinking was to fight Japan we have to cross an ocean. To fight Germany we have a base in England. If we concentrate on Japan first we might lose our base of England.
2] Many US leaders were afraid o
...more
C. Patrick
This was an excellent history. Very readable, every chapter is bite-sized, so one feels brisk progress is being made despite the overall length of the book. Many many actors from both Japanese and US sides are engaged, which can be daunting though unnecessary to worry about keeping track of each. The major players are evident, and one very quickly identifies those.

Lots of lessons to be taken away, still applicable in today's world where a plethora of sensors and endless streams of intelligence
...more
Maggie
It’s not often that I get to use the word, definitive, but it certainly fits At Dawn We Slept. This book offers its readers everything they could possibly want with regard to the who, what, when, where, and why of the planning and execution of the raid, as well as the who, what, when, where, and why of how the U. S. failed to anticipate their actions and protect Pearl Harbor from a likely attack. It is filled with the incredible research done by Gordon Prange over almost 40 years, tracing down n ...more
bobby mccormick
if you ever think you might want to be a management mentor, make sure you read this incredible treatise on the debacles leading up to Dec 7, 1947. you can learn more about how not to run a boat reading this book than any other single book.

Prange's scholarship is unequaled. His writing is easy and brilliant, and his depth of understanding of the events leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor, from both sides of the Atlantic, paint as clear a picture of that day as anyone possibly could. truly a mas
...more
Jack Tyler
Mar 30, 2014 Jack Tyler rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: armchair historians, early secondary students
The definitive work of a gifted researcher and writer, At Dawn We Slept is the end result of 37 years of research into the background and execution of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It is at once a scholarly tome and an eminently readable account of the events against which the surprise attack was planned and carried out.

You might think that I would give five stars to any book that was backed by almost four decades of research, but if that point had not been raised in the liner notes, I wo
...more
Kendra
A very thorough telling of the steps Japan took to launch the Pearl Harbor attack. I well-told history, but often repetitive. It was difficult to keep straight all the characters. Still, a good read and very informative, particularly if you don't have much knowledge of the Pacific theater during WWII.
Phillip
Good book, but I would have to agree it is exhaustive in detail as the author seems to get slightly bogged down in the minutiae of the event. After reading this book I felt I could have written a Phd thesis on Pearl Harbor. It was very informative.
Dana
Interesting but gets bogged down in details that aren't important
Michael
Without context, "At Dawn We Slept" becomes a truly strange piece of military history in its third act. It sets out straightforwardly enough, describing in great details the Japanese planning and execution of the famous raid on Pearl Harbor as well as the American defenses, and lack thereof, on Hawaii. It relates the raid itself both in the abstract language of tactics and destruction and as it was experienced by hundreds of participants and eye-witnesses. But then, just when you might expect an ...more
Jason
Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII and one died as a result. The seeds of my obsession with military history, specifically that of WWII, were planted and fertilized with these facts. From a very young age, I've been a voracious reader of military history largely in an attempt to make sense of who my grandfathers were in order to try to live up to their example. This book was on the recommended reading list as part of an impossibly long catalog given on the road to being commissioned in the a ...more
George Nap
A work that consumed thirty years of the author's life (not to the exclusion of other books or works, though). As an Army officer in postwar Japan and later as a college history professor, Prange had access to key documents and, as importantly, key veterans and civilians from both the Japanese and American and Allied forces. His research is impeccable, primary source and interview driven and presented in an unbiased and engaging manner.

This book is incredibly detailed, but well worth the read. I
...more
Richard
We'll no doubt be seeing new revelations contained in new titles of books about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, since this event, and all of the resulting World War II, will continue to fascinate us. No one, however, will duplicate the exhaustive, original research conducted by Gordon Prange after the war. As a historian on the staff of General MacArthur in occupied Japan, and later a Professor of History at the University of Maryland, he spent years interviewing literally hundreds ...more
Bev
Sep 28, 2011 Bev rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
Amazingly detailed account of what happened: however; I did not need to know every person involved in every decision attending every meeting on every day before and after the event. Larry thrived on this varied and opinionated detail—the 739 page book was excruciating reading. History is most instructive. America erred because they completely misjudged the Japanese, did not know their capabilities and their mindset. The attack happened because the Japanese spent over six months meticulously prep ...more
William


Thought I'd "At Dawn We Slept" re-reading after 20+ years. We were going to Hawaii on vacation and I wanted to know more than the average visitor when we went to visit Pearl Harbor.

Gordon Prange's master work still holds up nicely. The guy talked to just about everybody then alive who had a piece of the action on 12/7, within 10-15 years of the event. The author does not side with the revisionists who insist FDR knew about the attack in advance and deliberately used PacFleet as bait. Prange det
...more
Bob
How did the Japanese achieve such total surprise in the attack on Pearl Harbor? This has been the debate surrounding the events of December 7, 1941 ever since this occurred. Prange comes down very firmly against the idea that Franklin Roosevelt deliberately withheld knowledge of the attack in order to bring America into the war. Prange has sifted all the intelligence intercepts and high level discussions and he finds absolutely no evidence of this.

To what then does he attribute this? Fundamental
...more
Matt Howard
My copy is the 1981 Penguin paperback. This thoroughly researched study of the disaster at Pearl Harbor is an impressive work of scholarship. Reading it for the first time in 2007, one is struck by the author's well-supported conclusion which is that serious errors of judgment verging on dereliction of duty were made by the army and navy commanders at Pearl Harbor, by their subordinates and by their superiors in Washington. These errors were comprised of taking wishful thinking as substantiated ...more
Alex
This being Pearl Harbor Day, I am recommending the best single volume available on the subject. Prof. Prange taught at the University of Maryland for many years and prepared his book through exhaustive research including interviews with participants on both sides. If you are interested in the history of this event you will not be disappointed by his contribution.
Greg Gates
Gordon W. Prange - exhaustive research. This one is a must read if you want to know why Pearl Harbor happened. Prange's understanding of Japanese culture, the Samurai code, the language takes all the surprise out the attack on Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941.
Matt
Pretty amazing historical tome

At dawn we slept is a study into how Pearl harbor happened. Basically how the japanese navy so cunningly planned it and how the US Navy bungled so many things, basically forming the perfect storm that allowed the US to be negligently plunged headlong into WWII, the Navy's pants were down at the wrong time.

It is THE definitive expose on this subject. I was interested in it because I had heard that FDR purposely got us into WWII to get us out of the continuing Depress
...more
Charles Kennedy
This may be the definitive academic work on Pearl Harbor. It is the most thoroughly research and footnoted history I have ever read--and I have read many.

It can be very dry, but the detail brought to bear on the subject makes it very worth while. He met many of the surviving Japanese pilots and naval officers. He also used documents that had not been available until just before he began writing this book.

It may be dated by now, but not likely.At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor
Patrick Eddington
Engagingly written, but Prange was selective in his use of sources and entirely too willing to buy the line offered by the kangaroo-court style Roberts inquiry, as well as the voluminous but ultimately unedifying official Congressional investigation into the attack. Tens of thousands of pages of intelligence reports, decrypts of intercepted Japanese communications, and other important documents were either not reviewed or not available to Prange at the time. Those shortcomings were beyond Prange ...more
Kyle
Exciting, clear, builds suspense up to the act, and even manages to keep your interest through the myriads of investigations that followed the attack.
Whilethere's a lot about what the US should have done to prevent the attack, Prange gave excellent coverage to the Japanese side of the event. One thing many revisionists overlook is the extreme competence of the IJN at the time, particularly the Combined Air Fleet, which was absolutely the best collection of naval avaitors anywhere at the time.
Th
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John Rasmussen
a very clear historical study showing the activities and problems that lead to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the aftermath. every person should read this to understand the errors that lead to WWII
Arnold Osborn
One of the BEST historical books of war-time events that I have ever read. This book deserves to be read at least twice by every American no matter their age, so that they can have some idea of the actual events related to Pearl Harbor.
Wachlin007 Hotmail
This is arguably the best book written on Pearl Harbor. The author had access to all U.S. naval archives, most U.S. survivors, and many surviving Japanese sailors and papers. It is a fascinating read. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know anything about Pearl Harbor. The author also wrote "Miracle at Midway" which is a great account of the Battle of Midway.
Wayne
Superb book om the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. This book was the culmination of 37 years of study by Gordon Prange. He personally interviewed hundreds of military personnel on both sides to hear their stories. He read and anayzed numerous documents from the time leading up to the attack. He consisely tells the story of this historic attack.
Britt
There may not be many today who care about what really happened at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, and all the events leading up to it. However, we would be wise to read this book and learn from it the lessons of making unwarranted, prideful assumptions and what happens when arrogant men refuse to listen to the counsel of their advisers in critical situations.
Steve
I'm in the process of reading this book about the situations and events leading up to December 7, 1941. I've always wanted to read this book and now I am. It's extremely researched and detailed, and, to me, those are the things that make it fascinating. It's not a fast read, so I'm savoring each page. This journey is well worth it.
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Goodreads Librari...: Data on Goodreads does not match my copy 3 148 Oct 18, 2011 09:16PM  
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Gordon W. Prange was born in Pomeroy, Iowa on July 16, 1910. He studied at the University of Iowa, receiving his Ph.D. in 1937. That same year, he began his teaching career as a professor of history at the University of Maryland. In 1942, he was granted a leave of absence from the University to embark on a wartime career as an officer in the United States Navy. He was sent to Japan in 1945 as a me ...more
More about Gordon W. Prange...
Miracle at Midway Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History December 7, 1941: The Day Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor God's Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor (The Warriors) Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring

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