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To Wake the Giant: A Novel of Pearl Harbor

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  1,413 ratings  ·  204 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara takes on Pearl Harbor, the world-changing attack that catapulted America into World War II, in a novel featuring his trademark "you are there" immediacy.

The master of military fiction details the lead-up to the attack, the events of that terrible Sunday in December, and the aftermath with his signature sense of
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published May 19th 2020 by Ballantine Books
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Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
A long-time fan of Jeff Shaara and his work, I was ecstatic when I received his latest novel. These pieces of historical fiction are firmly in the military realm, bringing voices and strong narratives to famous battles fought throughout the American experience. This latest piece is all about the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese brought the Americans out of their isolationism and into the forefront of the Second World War. As with all of Shaara’s pieces, the narrative is split into numer ...more
David Eppenstein
I follow Sharra and collect his books and simply out of fan loyalty I would like to give this book 4 stars. Unfortunately, this book lacks a wow component, something that sets it apart. So I give it my 3 star rating which means it is a good book, worth the purchase price and the time it takes to read it but don't expect any surprises or revelations.

Shaara's books are all historic fictions and the kind of historic fiction that I like. First of all the history is always completely accurate and wel
Donna Davis
“It’s the admirals, sir, playing with us like this is their own big-assed bathtub and we’re just toys.”

Jeff Shaara has written some of the best war stories ever published, and he’s done so for almost 25 years. I have read every last one of them. When I was invited to read and review his new novel about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by Random House Ballantine and Net Galley, I was delighted, but also slightly apprehensive, because even after all these years, the subject remains an incendia
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jeff Shaara makes the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, the attack itself, and it's aftermath come alive in this novel. He tells the story through three principle characters:

Cordell Hull is President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of State who tried to approach and resolve the problem with Japan using diplomatic means.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is the architect of the invasion and who had to convince those around him that the only hope Japan has is a preemptive strike at Pearl Harbor that coul
Jay Pruitt
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like all books by Shaara, To Wake The Giant weaves true life events into a story which draws in the reader. Admittedly, I've always viewed the attack of Pearl Harbor to be what I learned in high school: names and dates, maybe a sprinkling of the whys and hows, maybe a little about the consequences, etc. For those alive on this "date which will live in infamy", it was their 9/11 moment. The author is able to pull you back in time by following the words, thoughts and actions of those who witnessed ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
528 pages

5 stars

This book deals with three personalities in the main: Secretary of State Cordell Hull President Franklin D. Roosevelt's right-hand man, Seaman Tommy Biggs who is a Hospital Apprentice and baseball batter with talent and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who thinks the only hope that Japan has of maybe winning a war with the United States is to make a preemptive attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Admiral Yamamoto wants to buy Japan maybe six months with his planned attack, but the rest of the
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, ww2
This is the story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor primarily told through personal experiences. The three main characters are Tommy Biggs, a 19 year old enlisted man assigned to the Arizona, Cordell Hull, the US Secretary of State and Isoroku Yamamoto, an Admiral in Japan’s imperial Navy.

Others such as Minoru Genda (who oversaw the operation), US Admiral Husband Kimmel/US Commander Joseph Rochefort (who were caught unprepared), Tarro Yoshikawa (a spy), Lt. William Outerbridge (who destroyed a su
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shaara writes as if paid by every single page. The aerial attack on Pearl Harbor doesn't take place until Chapter 35. A Hospital Apprentice would not have gone directly to the fleet from bootcamp at Great Lakes. He would have first attended Hospital Corps School there (as I did some 50 years ago).

Navy Chiefs are not addressed as "sir". That respect is only directed to officers. The Prince of Wales and the Repulse were sunk by Japanese aircraft on 10 December 1941, not "early in 1942".
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book. All you have to do is overlook the bureaucratic crap from both sides at the beginning and the end.
To Wake the Giant looks at Pearl Harbor from 3 unique perspectives. It starts about a year before Pearl from the U.S., Japanese, and from aboard the Arizona.
The Japanese military was mostly a bunch of old fools. From the early process to immediately after they opposed it every step of the way, including after the attack when they were afraid of U.S. retaliation, they turned tail
To Wake the Giant is a very powerful and intense tale of the Pearl Harbor attack, spotlighting world events during the preceding year by skillfully presenting historical figures such as FDR, Cordell Hull, Admiral Husband Kimmel, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander Minoru Genda, and Hospital Apprentice Tommy Biggs. The first part of the novel sets the stage by conveying background information on the preparedness of both the American and Japanese forces and by enumerating the reasons Japan went to ...more
Garrett Olinde
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
That's it, my last Shaara book. Terrible and sloppy research.

First, he does not understand the US defense establishment. He places the Secretary of the Navy subordinate to the Secretary of War (actually Army). WRONG. From about 1795 until 1947, the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy were equal cabinet level posts, independent of each other. In 1947 the Defense Department was created at cabinet level and the Navy, Army, and Air Force were subordinate to it.

Uboats were not ravaging the
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love historical fiction but I must admit I am picky about what I read. I try never to miss a book by Jeff Shaara though, and was very happy to be able to read this ARC from NetGalley. Once again he brings his literary skills to bear on a singular novel of the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Using historical figures of the time interspersed with fictional characters this story is told with clarity and exceptional knowledge of the subject matter. The majority of us know the event
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always described historical fiction (HF) as the appetizer before the main course as even an average HF can whet a reader’s appetite to read and research the ‘true’ history. In the case of Jeff Shaara’s book about the events leading to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, my experience was completely opposite as it was this book that humanized a tragic attack on an unprepared nation and presented me the opportunity to share the author’s emotional experience. In his “To The Reader” remarks, ...more
I've always been enthralled by the "Greatest Generation's" 9/11...From Walter Lord to Gordon W. Prange, I've eaten up much that has been written about the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as visiting the site and taking in the whole experience...Jeff Shaara always, in his retelling of familiar stories, brings a certain "humanity" by personalizing the event with it being viewed through the eyes of some of the participants, allowing the reader to be immersed in "Time & Place" of an event...Along wi ...more
John Boyne
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Another excellent Jeff Shaara novel! Shaara's mastery of military history and narrative is displayed yet again. This time the focus is mainly on the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. All of the deception, planning, confusion and arrogance on all sides is brilliantly portrayed. I greatly enjoy Shaara's balance between characters who have more of the bird's eye view and grand strategy of things with characters on the ground who were directly effected by everything that happened. Pea ...more
victor harris
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Historical fiction that puts you in the setting. It is crafted so well, you can almost dispense with the "fiction" label. Shaara handles the dynamics of fitting individual characters into the backdrop of the global perspective very efficiently. And he does so as he gradually raises the drama level.
The attention to detail on the Japanese preparation and diplomatic intrigues is particularly laudable. Yamamato and the ambassadors to the U.S. are clearly trapped in policy tides not of their own mak
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Jeff Shaara has done an excellent story on the attack of Pearl Harbor using historical fiction to explain it. The majority of us know the event that took place on December 7, 1941. We know how it ends and the toll it took on our military. There has been endless novels written about this event but this is the first time I have read one using three characters to tell the story of the attack. Sec. of State Cordell Hull, President FDR's right man, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Admiral of the Imperial Ja ...more
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jeff Shaara truly has a gift of making history come alive.

Over a year ago, I went to the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredricksburg, TX. Now, I have read a LOT of historical fiction in my life and more than my fair share of WWII books. But as I walked through the museum, I realized just how little I know about the Pacific Theater of WWII. Because I'm me, I immediately started searching for historical fiction set during that time and also went to Jeff Shaara's website to see if he had a
Donna Hines
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A date that will live in infamy is exactly Americans thoughts at the loss of so many young, innocent, and nieve young men who had no idea what was to come.
So many joined the Navy for a future, for success, but for others it was the enticement of a few bucks that made a 'make or break' for their families as they were in poverty.
The recruiters may have worked overtime to keep them coming in by the droves but it was the ultimate act of sacrifice with their own lives that these men (boys in many cas
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
When General Billy Mitchell wrote a report in 1924 that not only predicted the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor but how they would do it, it was rejected out of hand.

Those who've seen documentaries and feature films such as "Tora! Tora! Tora!" know before they pick up Jeff Shaara's accurate and well written "To Wake the Giant: A Novel of Pearl Harbor" that military commanders and diplomats in the late 1930s and early 1940s continued to reject a Japanese attack out of hand.

Having read all of Je
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jeff Shaara continues to lead the pack of authors writing historical military fiction. Almost every American knows the story of Pearl Harbor and 12/7/1941 - "a date which will live in infamy". Still, Shaara's account of the Japanese planning and American indifference make for a gripping narrative that makes the agony of the U.S. soldiers & sailors feel like a gut punch when the bombs fall. Engaging story lines include the diplomacy of Secretary of State Cordell Hull, the high stakes gambling of ...more
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
First, thanks to Goodreads and Random House for the advance copy of To Wake the Giant that I received as a give-away. This work of historical fiction chronicles the year leading up to and including the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The story centers around three people - Secretary of State Cordell Hull, General Yamamoto (who planned the attack) and 19 year-old Tommy Biggs on the USS Arizona.
Erik Larson is one of my favorite nonfiction writers and this novel came very close to the intensely pe
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-listened
It's too long, and of the 3 stories being told (Hull, Yamamoto and Biggs), only Tommy Biggs' story was really engrossing. Mark Bramhall's narration is really incredible though.

If I were looking at it dispassionately, a 3-star rating might be more appropriate. But it was a moving book and I really relished Biggs' decency and spirit. Maybe one day, thanks to this book, I'll seek to visit the memorials to the Arizona and Oklahoma. If I'm ever able to, I'll remember how deeply this book made me feel
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Eye opening insight into the Pearl Harbor attack. Especially the Japanese plan. I didn't understand Yamamoto's logic that the attack would only slow down the inevitable defeat of Japan. Why do it then?

It also sounded like the U.S. military and government had blinders on as to the capabilities and intent of Japan. The attacks on China and southeast Asia as well as their entering into partnership with the nazis and Italy were clearly portents of things to come.
Dec 23, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting look at the run up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from both the governmental aspect and the personal stories of some of those on the Arizona. Mr. Shaara has a wonderful ability for taking us into history and helping us live through it with those actually there. I have to say I've enjoyed his Revolutionary and Civil War novels more, but this is because I'm more interested in those time periods, not because this book is any less well written. ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent accounting of the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Brings to life the characters behind decisions made and not made in American and Japan.
Jim Barber
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just an excellent read. Gets you into the mindset of real people and looks at the story from multiple angles.
David Barnes
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful effort from this author
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will always enjoy a Jeff Shaara book. This is another in a long line of appealing titles from the gentleman. It will be interesting to see where he goes with this series. Highly recommend.
Tom Foley
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Typically excellent work from Mr. Shaara. He truly brings the characters to life and gives a real feel for the experiences of personalities at every level of the conflict
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Jeff Shaara, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey ("Shaara" was originally spelled "Sciarra"). He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Criminology. From age 16, Jeff operated a rare coin business, first out of his home, then in a retail store. After moving to Tampa, Jeff became one of the most widely know ...more

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