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A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight
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A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  380 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
One of the great untold stories of World War II finally comes to light in this thrilling account of Torpedo Squadron Eight and their heroic efforts in helping an outmatched U.S. fleet win critical victories at Midway and Guadalcanal. These 35 American men--many flying outmoded aircraft--changed the course of history, going on to become the war's most decorated naval air sq ...more
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published December 8th 2008 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2008)
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Mar 18, 2016 Manray9 rated it really liked it
Today the appellation “hero” is thrown about frivolously. Not every person who encounters disappointment or personal trials in their life is a hero. The naval aviators of Torpedo Squadron 8, celebrated by Robert J. Mrazek in A Dawn Like Thunder, were heroes. These young men, with much to live for, sold their lives dearly to blunt Japanese aggression against the U.S. in the early months of World War II. Mrazek tells their story vividly and with a raw power that gives them life anew. As Frank Defo ...more
May 06, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing
"A Dawn Like Thunder" is about one of my favorite historical subjects, the Battle of Midway during WWII. These are the facts as history had taught me. On 4 June 1942, just five months and change after Pearl Harbor the Japanese made an attempt to take Midway Island in a gambit to draw out and destroy the American fleet. When the Japanese fleet, including four aircraft carriers, arrived in the vicinity of Midway the United States fleet was waiting in ambush. As Japanese bombers attacked the island ...more
Urey Patrick
Poignant and compelling history of Torpedo 8 based largely on personal accounts and individual stories of the men of the squadron juxtaposed against the larger events and actions of the war in the Pacific at the time. Torpedo 8 not only lost all 15 airplanes launched from the Hornet against the Japanese at Midway, it also lost five of six planes launched against the Japanese from Midway airfield itself. One man survived the Hornet strike force, two survived the Midway strike. And yet, their cour ...more
Mar 27, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing
This book is actually misnamed. It should be subtitled "The COMPLETE Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight". Most history buffs know about the debacle of VT-8 at the Battle of Midway, but that's usually the extent of it. This excellent book describes Torpedo 8 and its personnel before, during, and after the Battle of Midway. For example, I had no idea that VT-8 went on after Midway (no, the whole squadron was NOT wiped out there - a sizeable contingent remained in Hawaii and missed out on the battle a ...more
Dana Stabenow
Mar 09, 2011 Dana Stabenow rated it it was ok
Dull. Sad because there's a hell of a story here, but the writing is like there is a wall of glass between the reader and the characters. We can see their lips move but we can't really get close enough to care for them.
Feb 02, 2009 Gavin rated it it was amazing
Almost like Band of Brothers, this author personalizes the heroes who changed history with sacrifice and luck. Many key facts from interviews and research create an interesting time line in our history.
Mark Peebler
Feb 05, 2014 Mark Peebler rated it it was amazing
Excellent read. One of those that I just couldn't put down, or at least didn't want to. Priding myself on knowing much about World War II, especially in the Pacific, I learned much from this book. For Instance, I never knew about the flight of TBF Avengers at Midway that struck the Japanese first with 18 men, 2 of which returned alive. The valiant infantry struggle by the remaining members of the squadron was also new to me. This story is told by a wordsmith who makes you feel like you are there ...more
A. Bowdoin Van Riper
Like the Light Brigade at Balaclava and the 7th Cavalry at the Little Big Horn, Torpedo Squadron 8 achieved immortality through a shattering defeat. On June 4, 1942, fifteen of the squadron’s planes took off from the aircraft carrier Hornet, and six more from Midway Island, to attack an oncoming Japanese fleet. Twenty of the twenty-one planes were shot down, and more than thirty-five men killed, without inflicting damage on the enemy.

A Dawn Like Thunder tells the story of the doomed attack at g
May 08, 2015 Wayne rated it it was amazing
It was by chance hat I selected this book to read. I am most certainly glad that I did. It was a very descriptive and vivid documentary of the battles at Midway and Guadalcanal. It is an accurate and detailed account of these events as experience by Torpedo Squadron Eight. Your get to know these men by their names and background. You admire their bravery morn their loss. Although official Navy records of military awards are not maintained on a squadron by squadron basis this squadron of brave me ...more
When most people think of The Battle of Midway then invariably go to the sacrifice of VT-8 and the "sole survivor" George Gay. That is only partially true because the histories always cover the flight of six Avengers that made an earlier attack, one of those Avengers survive with two crewmembers out of three. That Avenger flight was the second half of VT-8 that missed sailing on the U.S.S. Hornet and half of the left behind group was sent to Midway. Mrazek's book tells the story of VT-8 from May ...more
David Becker
May 12, 2010 David Becker rated it it was amazing
The more I read about World War II, the more I appreciate reading books about smaller parts of the war. Not all stories, for instance, have the scope of something like D-Day, but smaller parts of the War had their importance, too.

This book covers a torpedo squadron that suffered horrific losses throughout the war, and yet still could have been considered successful. It contains a very different view of Guadalcanal that would be what you'd think if you were a pilot, and not a ground soldier...tho
Jul 09, 2010 Troy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's easy to forget, in this age of easily integrated digitally-fused data and sattelite surveillance, that not so long ago our grandfathers and great-grandfathers flew slow, piston-driven airplanes hundreds of miles out into the open blue ocean to visually locate and attack an enemy fleet of forty or more warships among islands harboring native cannibals and headhunters by lobbing lead, dumb iron bombs and unguided torpedoes at them. (It's also easy to forget that despite technological advances ...more
Drew Danko
Apr 12, 2011 Drew Danko rated it liked it
Not being a history buff of any kind, I am woe fully ignorant of the events that shaped our military challenges in WW 2. Reading this book helped me overcome that deficit as far as the Pacific theater is concerned. I was familiar with the names such as Midway and Guadacanal, but had no idea of their significance. Now that has changed. From this incredibly well researched book, you learn about the improbable odds we were facing from the Japanese fleet, the various tactics used by both sides to wi ...more
Aug 11, 2009 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
This book is set in the first year of the War for the US, immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and covers the experiences and in some cases mystery surrounding the lives and experiences of the men of TorPedo Squadron Eight. They were nearly wiped out to a man in the first major battle in the Pacific, at Midway, and the tattered remnants went on to help make the difference in the battle of Guadalcanal at a time when the U.S. Navy was still licking its wounds and reeling from the loss ...more
Julian Tan
Jan 16, 2011 Julian Tan rated it it was amazing
A truly fascinating and enriching account of the role played by the bomber pilots in the Battle of Midway and subsequent campaigns in Guadalcanal; which ultimately influenced the outcome of the war in the Far East. It is sobering to think that the survival odds in that particular raid on Midway was something like 1 in 15, and yet the pilots and crew would continually throw themselves into battle with the utmost of courage and disregard for their own persons.

The tale of Midway is a classic - a co
Oct 30, 2014 David rated it really liked it
Great book. I have read many books about specific battles, but never one tracking a particular unit. This book tracks the squadron through the war, even detailing the lives left behind as the squad headed out to war, and going beyond the well known disaster the squad encountered at the Battle of Midway. Very interesting.
Derek Jones
Jan 12, 2016 Derek Jones rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing! I felt like I was there! It brought me to tears. I really don't know what else to say about this tragic piece of history. I think this is a great read for anyone who is interested in WWII history of any kind.
David Bowman
Mar 25, 2015 David Bowman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Real Heros...Real Men

First off, a great read. More importantly this is the story of real heroes with all their warts and stripped pajamas. Read this and weep for our loss and for those who made it.
Dustin Gaughran
Jul 26, 2011 Dustin Gaughran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If ever a squadron of pilots had a story to tell about WWII, it was these guys. Torpedo Squadron 8 was present at two of the biggest, and decisive, battles in the Pacific. Those of us that are familiar with the Pacific theater are well aware that the Dauntless dive bombers almost single handedly won the battle of Midway, and were responsible for sinking four Japanese carriers. But it was Torpedo Squadron 8 that flew the first attacks, and they suffered heavily for it. They pressed on, though, an ...more
Oct 17, 2009 Matt rated it liked it
This is one of those history books that tries to recount events as narrative, complete with dialogue, without quite going all the way to an historical fiction format. I don't happen to particularly care for that style of non-fiction writing, as it seems less direct, but if this doesn't bother you you would enjoy this book much more than I did.

It's an interesting story and frustrating to see how commanders really sent men needlessly to their deaths at times. In the Battle of Midway, these torpedo
Jan 19, 2010 Elgin rated it really liked it
Shelves: military
I love WW II history. I would not recommend this book to anyone who has not already read a good deal of war history. However, having read books on the Pacific War, Pearl Harbor, Midway, Gaudacanal, etc, this book was perfect for me. It gives an in depth look at the role of a squadron of torpedo and dive bombers at Midway and Guadacanal. As well as discussing the role of the planes and pilots, there is a good deal about the personalities of the pilots and the frustations and fears they felt.

Aug 03, 2011 Bruce added it
This was an informative and fun read. It is an amazing story about a torpedo squadron that fought in the Battle of Midway and at Guadalcanal. The writer does an excellent job developing the background for each of the members of the squadron, and makes the history read like an adventure novel. It is amazing what our parents and grandparents accomplished when history demanded the ultimate of them. I hope we never forget and will always appreciate what "the greatest generation" did. I highly recomm ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Ken rated it it was amazing
Excellant historical World War Two read..
Jaeger Matthias
Sep 08, 2016 Jaeger Matthias rated it it was amazing
This is a pretty awesome book!
Matt Sparling
Oct 18, 2015 Matt Sparling rated it really liked it
Good solid book about WWII pacific war.
Aug 15, 2011 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I consider myself a student of WWII history in the pacific theater, and this book had new information and insight that I have never read before. It was a great study into the brief lives of some extraordinarily ordinary men! I have heard of many of these key figures before, but I never "really" knew much about them. A great glimpse into the personal lives of some men that gave their all for our country. I highly recommend this book.
Arthur Gibson
May 04, 2015 Arthur Gibson rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
Excellent book with tons of historical information found on its pages as well as many of the stories and opinions of the people in the squadron. The imagery and descriptive language brings you into the cockpit of the planes of Torpedo Squadron 8. Amazing stories of near death experiences and the losses suffered during a time of uncertainty in the US. Second time reading it and I have o say, I would certainly read it a third time.
Melrose Park Library
"A Dawn Like Thunder tells the story of Torpedo Squadron Eight, a US Navy squadron that was virtually wiped out during the Battle of Midway in 1942. The unit was resurrected to fight on at Gudalcanal before being disbanded in late 1942. Author Robert J. Mrazek describes not only the unit’s sacrifice and heroism, but the critical command mistakes that led to so many of their deaths."
Feb 09, 2010 Salaryman63 rated it it was amazing
I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. It tells the story of one squadron's fate from Midway to Guadalcanal! The writing is superb, the story is filled with the day to day actions of unsung heroes,and the indomitable will that made our Nation what it was. The bravery and sacrifice captured in this story almost seems to come from another world given where we are these days.
Mar 27, 2011 Ken30MU rated it liked it
Not the caliber of "Tears in the Darkness". A lot of straight-up war facts, too much personal stories (especially when talking about their love lives) and plenty of interesting stories. Abridged version would probably been OK here.
First half was Midway, second half was Guadalcanal. First half was more captivating.
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Robert Jan Mrazek was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the 3rd Congressonal District on Long Island for most of the 1980s.

He born in Newport, Rhode Island, but grew up in Huntington, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1967. In 1968, he entered the United States Navy and served in the Vietnam War. However, he was discharged following a t
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“At the lobby desk, the manager informed them that there was no room for them there either. Fieberling, who was leading-man handsome, flashed a confident grin and asked for the manager’s name, telling him that his squadron’s orders to lodge there had come directly from Admiral Nimitz, and he would need to advise the commander-in-chief why his order had been disobeyed. It was a bald-faced lie, but the manager nervously disappeared into his office. A minute later he came back out smiling at Fieberling as if he had just won the lottery.” 0 likes
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