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TO WAKE THE GIANT

by Jeff Shaara, 2020

President Roosevelt watches uneasily as the world heads rapidly down a dangerous path. The Japanese have waged an aggressive campaign against China, and they begin to expand their ambitions to other parts of Asia. By the late 1930s, their enemies know that Japan’s ultimate goal is total conquest over the region, especially when the Japanese align themselves with Hitler’s Germany and Italy’s Mussolini, who wage their own war of conquest across Europe.

Meanwhile, the British stand nearly alone against Hitler, and there is pressure in Washington to transfer America’s powerful fleet of warships from Hawaii to the Atlantic to join the fight against the German U-boats that are devastating shipping. Weakening the Pacific fleet raises deep concerns. But despite their wariness, no one believes that the main base at Pearl Harbor is under any real threat.

Told through the eyes of widely diverse characters, this story looks at all sides of the drama, and puts the reader squarely in the middle. In Washington, Secretary of State Cordell Hull must balance his own concerns between President Roosevelt and the Japanese Ambassador, Nomura, who is little more than a puppet of his own government. From Japan, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto wins skeptical approval for his outrageous plans in the Pacific, yet he understands more than anyone that an attack on Pearl Harbor will start a war that Japan cannot win. In Hawaii, Commander Joseph Rochefort’s job as an accomplished intelligence officer is to detect the location of the Japanese fleet by decoding their radio signals, but when the airwaves suddenly go silent, no one has any idea why. And from a small Depression-era town, 19-year old Tommy Biggs sees the Navy as his chance to escape and happily accepts his assignment, every sailor’s dream: a battleship, the USS Arizona.

Recounted with you-are-there immediacy, Shaara opens up the mysteries of just how Japan—a small, deeply militarist nation—could launch one of history’s most devastating surprise attacks. A story of innocence, heroism, sacrifice and unfathomable blindness, Shaara’s gift for storytelling takes these familiar wartime themes and shines a light on the personal, the painful, the tragic and the thrilling, and a crucial part of history we must never forget.