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At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor Paperback – December 1, 1991


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At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor + Day of Infamy, 60th Anniversary: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 60th Anniversary Edition edition (December 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140157344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140157345
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

ea. vol: Penguin. 2001. photogs. bibliog. index. pap. $20.95.HIST Prange's twin volumes offer everything you always wanted to know about Pearl Harbor but were afraid to ask, plus pictures! Together, these tomes comprise an exhaustive study of the day that will live in infamy. Prange takes a long, hard look at President Roosevelt's relationship with Japan and implies that FDR all but goaded the empire into bombing the Hawaiian base. With the 60th anniversary of the attack approaching, there no doubt will be many volumes released and rereleased, but these are among the best.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Prange's exhaustive interviews of people on both sides enable him to tell the story in such personal terms that the reader is bound to feel its power....It is impossible to forget such an account. —The New York Times Book Review

Diligent, thorough, and evenhanded...At Dawn We Slept is the definitive account of Pearl Harbor. —Chicago Sun-Times

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Customer Reviews

I'm again reading yet this book with great pleasure and interest.
Bruno Houdayer
The U.S. Navy, particularly the fleet that was moved to Pearl Harbor, stood in the way of Japan's own manifest destiny to conquer the lands of the South Pacific.
Paul L
His book also includes detailed information about the attack itself, gleaned from interviews with those on both sides who actually participated in the event.
Alan R. Holyoak

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Alan R. Holyoak on July 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
While science is my area of expertise, I have a continuing interest in history. That interest lead me to pick up Prange's book. Gordon Prange has devoted years to accumulating information about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That information includes interviews and military and government information from the USA and Japan. That accumulated information was then boiled down into this final work -- completed after Prange's death.
While there have been many books and theories proposed about why and how the debacle at Pearl Harbor took place, Prange's approach is well documented, and includes details of the pre-attack politics of the USA and of Japan. His book also includes detailed information about the attack itself, gleaned from interviews with those on both sides who actually participated in the event. But, even with that level of detail, I must admit that the most compelling part of the book for me is the section that follows the actual attack -- when the US government and the military were trying to figure out what actually happened, and who was to blame.
The final series of chapters of the book provide insight into the thoughts and tactics of Adm. Kimmell (CincPAC) and Gen Short (Commanding General of army at Hawaii), the two primary "interested parties" in the event.
Before reading the book, I had a tendency to believe that there may have been something of a conspiracy by the Roosevelt administration to get us into WWII, but after reading this account of Pearl Harbor, I am more likely to believe that the great success, including complete surprise by Japanese naval aviation was the result of a series of ill-advised decisions by the commanders at Hawaii rather than by any entity in Wash DC.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gordon W. Prange, et al does a superb job of collecting interview and documentary data to examine the entire aspects of the attack (he examines the inquiries in a later book) from American and Japanese perspectives. This is the single most detailed, objective and comprehensive account of the attack on Pearl Harbor ever written. The U.S. military did believe an attack was coming but assumed it would be only in the Phillipines and Southeast Asia. The assumption was made that Japan could not do both, attack in Asia and strike our fleet. We were wrong to assume and Japan made us pay a severe penalty but not one nearly so severe as it could have been, especially as our carriers were at sea and the sub base and fuel farm were unhit. History now shows it is more vital to hit bases than ships. If Pearl Harbor itself had been more damaged, the Pacific Fleet would have had to relocate back to the West Coast and being short of tankers, would have been unable to intervene in any decisive way for some months. As it was, with the base intact, our carriers were able to strike back and within six months won a miracle victory at Midway. For a complementary study, I would recommend Cpt. Homer N. Wallin's, Pearl Harbor, Why? How? Fleet Salvage and Appraisal especially for the details of the huge salvage effort.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Alex Diaz-Granados on September 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Just as Cornelius Ryan's three major works about World War II (The Longest Day, The Last Battle, and A Bridge Too Far) focus on the last 11 months of the conflict in Europe, the late Gordon W. Prange and his collaborators Donald Goldstein and Katherine Dillon zeroed in on the Pearl Harbor saga and its aftermath. No less than five major books by Prange and Co. deal with the series of events that occurred before, during, and after. Of these, At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor is the first and most important volume.
At Dawn We Slept covers nearly the entire 12-month period leading up to the "day of infamy" that marked America's entry into World War II. It provides amazing insights into both the Japanese and American mindsets, and, most important, explodes the revisionists' myth that Japan's attack succeeded because President Franklin D. Roosevelt withheld critical information from Army and Navy commanders in Hawaii.
Prange researched the Pearl Harbor affair for 37 years until his death in 1980, and his posthumous books paint a tragic picture of two great Pacific nations reluctantly yet inexorably moving in a collision course. Japan doesn't necessarily hate the United States, yet since the 1920s sees it as its main rival for supremacy in the Pacific. Japan's war in China causes the rift between it and America to grow, and U.S. economic sanctions intended to end Japanese aggression against its neighbors have exactly the opposite effect on the military-dominated government in Tokyo. What once was just an abstract idea in Japan's military academies -- a transoceanic war with Britain and America -- slowly but surely comes closer to reality after Tokyo joins the Axis in 1940.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Slokes VINE VOICE on February 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
You can spend too much time writing a book. Such a thing happened to Gordon W. Prange, author of the celebrated "At Dawn We Slept."

After more than 30 years researching, writing, and fine-tuning his opus, Prange died more than a year before this massive yet much-edited book finally saw light in 1981 with help from two former colleagues. Buttressed by hundreds of interviews, his narrative of the planning and attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor and Oahu by the Japanese Navy is compelling, yet also repetitive and unwieldy.

Prange's narrative hops between the U.S. forces in Hawaii, maddeningly inert, and the Japanese attack plan, which he describes as a daring gambit brilliantly led by Admiral Yamamoto rather than a sneaky atrocity performed under cover of peace. So committed was Yamamoto to his plan that one point he dramatically threatened to resign if he was not allowed to carry out the attack.

Prange seems to share the hero worship for Yamamoto of his Japanese sources. But at the same time he writes of Yamamoto having "no hope" of winning a war with the United States. There are even questions raised about the attack's necessity. The Japanese wanted the whole of the southern Pacific, then carved up by numerous western powers including the United States. So why go north and attack Hawaii? Yamamoto feared the American fleet there, Prange writes, but then reveals this as a false premise, quoting a U.S. congressional report after the war that noted the fleet "did not present a formidable deterrent to anything Japan desired to do in the Far East." The fleet's pathetically winnowed and outdated condition was in full display to Japanese spies in Oahu, and Yamamoto got regular activity reports. So why attack a paper tiger and risk the wrath of a real one?
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