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

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  35 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 November 24th 2008)
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"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
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
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 De...more
Dana Stabenow
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.
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
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...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
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...more
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
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
Julian Tan
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...more
Dustin Gaughran
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
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...more
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
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.
Feb 21, 2009 Melrose added it
Shelves: staffpicks
"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."
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.
In the tradition of Band of Brothers, this is the untold story of a squadron of navy pilots whose heroism was decisive in America's victory in the Pacific.

Listen to A Dawn Like Thunder on your smartphone, notebook or desktop computer.
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.
I always thought that Torpedo 8's only survivor was Ensign George Gay, but found out that that was not true. I listened to Mr. Mrazek one night on C-span3 and had to get the book based on his presentation... So far so good...... Wow this is getting very good, what better time to read.......
Robert Giambo
The author follows a Torpedo Squadron as it fights in the Battle of Midway and Guadalcanal. A brave group of pilots and crew battle during the early part of the war when the outcome of the war is still in doubt. Over 80% casualty rate - an amazing story.
I had always thought Torpedo Squadron 8 was completely destroyed at the Battle of Midway. This book does of a good job of telling the story of Torpedo Squadron 8 at the Battle of Midway....and also tells about their fine work on Guadacanal.
Great and interesting read of Torpedo Squadron Eight who were aviators of the United States Navy who fought in the Battle of Midway and Guadalcanal in the War in the Pacific against the Japanese during World War II.
I loved this book. It outlines these historic battles in very personal detail. It provides great insight into the tremendous sacrifices the militaries gave to own the control of these islands. I highly recommend it.
how close we were initially to having the Japanese establish dominance in the Pacific. detailed account of what one navy air unit went through. good account of Midway and Guadalcanal battles
Great read about the torpedo 8 squadron that fought at Battle of Midway and then on Guadelcanal. Terrible toll. Great bravery. What a near victory it all was.
True story, rivetingly told, of Torpedo Squadron Eight, WWII, in the battles of Midway and Guadalcanal. Excellent read.
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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...more
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