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At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor [Paperback]

By Gordon W. Prange (Author), Donald M. Goldstein (Afterword by) & Katherine V. Dillon (Afterword by)
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Item description for At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon W. Prange, Donald M. Goldstein & Katherine V. Dillon...

Records the planning and execution of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and looks at what it reveals about American leadership

Publishers Description
At 7:53 a.m., December 7, 1941, America's national consciousness and confidence were rocked as the first wave of Japanese warplanes took aim at the U.S. Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. As intense and absorbing as a suspense novel, At Dawn We Slept is the unparalleled and exhaustive account of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is widely regarded as the definitive assessment of the events surrounding one of the most daring and brilliant naval operations of all time. Through extensive research and interviews with American and Japanese leaders, Gordon W. Prange has written a remarkable historical account of the assault that-sixty years later-America cannot forget.

Citations And Professional Reviews
At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon W. Prange, Donald M. Goldstein & Katherine V. Dillon has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 899
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 879
  • Library Journal - 06/01/2001 page 226

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Penguin Books
Pages   889
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6" Height: 1.7"
Weight:   2.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1991
Publisher   Penguin (Non-Classics)
Age  18
Edition  Anniversary  
ISBN  0140157344  
ISBN13  9780140157345  
UPC  051488020950  

Availability  4 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2016 02:08.
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More About Gordon W. Prange, Donald M. Goldstein & Katherine V. Dillon

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Gordon W. Prange (1910-1980) served during World War II as an officer in the naval reserve and, during the occupation of Japan, served in the General Headquarters as a civilian. He was chief of General Douglas McArthur's G-2 Historical Section and director of the Military History Section. He taught history at the University of Maryland from 1937 until his death.

Gordon W. Prange was born in 1910 and died in 1980.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > State & Local - By State > Hawaii
3Books > Subjects > History > Asia > Japan
4Books > Subjects > History > Europe > General
5Books > Subjects > History > Europe
6Books > Subjects > History > Military > Aviation
7Books > Subjects > History > Military > Strategy
8Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States > General
9Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States
10Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > General
11Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > Pearl Harbor

Reviews - What do customers think about At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor?

Parts are thorough but book lacks essential information  Nov 30, 2007
Gordon Prange was a military historian on MacArthur's staff who researched and interviewed key people involving Pearl Harbor for nearly 40 years prior to his death. He never finished this book and a couple of graduate students of his compiled, edited, and finished his work, so this is a composite production.

The books(yes, books - the edition I own is 2 volumes) themselves are arranged in sections called "Prelude", "Action" and "Aftermath". Prange and his students are not writers and this is a long, detailed book that is not for the idle reader looking for a popular account.

But the main reason for the low ranking of this book is that it lacks so much essential information. Some has only become available in the last few years but a fair amount was simply not included by Prange or his students. Some material is still locked up. A fair amount was destroyed or disappeared at the orders of the accusers of General Short and Admiral Kimmel, the scapegoats. And if that isn't circumstantial evidence, I don't know what is. In fairness, Prange never completed this hobby of his.

Prange's students overall decide that the Pearl Harbor debacle was the fault of the 2 primary commanders, General Short of the Army and Kimmel of the Navy. The majority of the book is actually a defense of this thesis and defense of President Roosevelt and his staff.

The basic problem is that the Japanese destroyed our Pacific Fleet with almost no losses. And someone must have been at fault. Of course, it is quite possible for no one or everyone to be at fault, but the Pearl Harbor blame game has continued for 60 years and shows no signs of stopping. This book is the best and most complete defense of Roosevelt, General George C. Marshall and other top Washington Insiders. For the missing parts of the puzzle I recommend Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath and Final Secret of Pearl Harbor: The Washington Contribution to the Japanese Attack.

The greatest strength of this book is the extensive Japanese information and interviews. The main Japanese commanders who had the greatest knowledge were, however, almost all killed during the war or in the war crimes trials shortly thereafter.

The key factor in believing that Pearl Harbor could have been prevented was that the US had broken the Japanese code and intercepted and translated messages regularly. Yet for some reason, the code-breaking machines, called "Magic", were never sent to the Pacific, the area which most needed this information. As a matter of fact, the listening stations in the Pacific relayed the intercepts to Washington. Why? Roosevelt wanted control as he tried his best to get America in WWII. And the best way to do that was to get Japan to attack the US. This information, readily available is not included in this book and is one of its most glaring problems.

There were multiple intercepts of war messages, none of which ever got to Pearl Harbor. The code for launching attack was "Execute Winds". This message was intercepted and decoded December 4, 1941, 3 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. This information was never transmitted to the Pacific under orders from at least 20 Washington Insiders including President Roosevelt and General Marshall.

The meat of the book are the investigations after Pearl Harbor. The first was the Roberts Commission. Roberts was a Supreme Court Justice and the rest of the group were cronies of General George C. Marshall or Roosevelt, the 2 figures who covered up the information that would have saved thousands of lives at Pearl Harbor. There was one exception, a retired Admiral Standley who came late to the hearings and found that the witnesses weren't being sworn in, no one had asked hard questions of the Washington Insiders and the testimony wasn't even being recorded. Roberts even forbade Kimmel and Short from calling any witnesses. Finally, the court assigned 2 stenographers, one a mere teen-ager and neither of whom had any court experience. These incompetents missed or garbled much of the testimony and Justice Roberts refused to even let Kimmel and Short correct the errors. The fix was in. Commenting on this kangaroo court Admiral Bull Halsey noted, ""I have always considered Admiral Kimmel and General Short to be splendid officers who were thrown to the wolves as scapegoats for something over which they had no control." Other admirals called this panel "as crooked as a snake" and said the report was "the most unfair, unjust, and deceptively dishonest document ever printed by the Government Printing Office". Strong words from those most likely to know what really happened. And this book has none of this, to its shame.

Kimmel and Short then pushed for a courts-martial so they could tell their side. Eventually the Navy and Army tried these officers in 1944. Kimmel had heard by then of all the intercepted messages that had been withheld from him. 43 of these were delivered to the court and "The admirals on the Court listened to them being read with looks of horror and disbelief. Two of the admirals flung their pencils down. More than 2,000 died at Pearl Harbor because those messages had been withheld." The Roberts Commission findings were reversed; Kimmel and then Short were exonerated. General George C. Marshall and other Washington Insiders were censured. But George C. Marshall was the highest General in the land and this was 1944 - the war was still on. So the innocent verdict was suppressed as a state secret by Secretary of Navy Knox on Roosevelt's orders. Clearly, Roosevelt was behind all of this, but the investigation had purposely not examined the President's role.

Roosevelt died shortly thereafter and the war ended. And then Secretary Knox convened other hearings - this time with his hand-picked cronies. Officers were demoted and transferred who had previously testified. One was thrown in a mental hospital. The Chief Warrant Officer Ralph T. Briggs, the man who had originally intercepted the "winds" message at a United States monitoring station was summoned before his commanding officer, who forbade him to testify. "Perhaps someday you'll understand the reason for this," he was told. Briggs had a blind wife to support. He did not come forward as a witness.

But the father of Naval Cryptography, Captain Laurance Safford, refused to be cowed. He continued to testify of the truth. Gradually others began to again confirm that the Roosevelt Administration had prevented the transmission of the intercepted Japanese information. It was found that just four days after Pearl Harbor, Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, director of naval communications, told his subordinates: "Destroy all notes or anything in writing." This was an illegal order -- naval memoranda belong to the American people and cannot be destroyed except by congressional authority. And this book, again, has none of this.

Then Congress convened its own investigative body. With 6 democrats and 4 republicans, it broke along party lines so that the new President Truman, wouldn't lose any votes. And that was that. General Short died and then Admiral Kimmel.

We know now that Kimmel and Short were right. Dozens of sources of the information that Japan was attacking have since turned up - all suppressed by a Roosevelt administration determined to get us into WWII. As historian John Toland reports, both Japanese assistant naval attachés posted at the Washington embassy in 1941 have verified that the message to attack was transmitted on December 4th, exactly as Safford said.

As a final footnote, on May 25, 1999, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution that Kimmel and Short had performed their duties "competently and professionally" and that our losses at Pearl Harbor were "not the result of dereliction of duty." "They were denied vital intelligence that was available in Washington," said Senator William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.). Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) called Kimmel and Short "the two final victims of Pearl Harbor."

And so Kimmel and Short have been finally vindicated. Roosevelt, Marshall and others purposely withheld information that would have prevented the disaster at Pearl Harbor to get us more committed and unified. And that this book has none of this information means that it is not worth reading.

In the end, this is just one more, decades old, sordid government cover-up of treasonous activities by Insiders bent on their own agenda. Korea, Vietnam, assassinations of key figures, Waco, Oklahoma City,Iraq and 9-11 are just the continued fruits of a government over which we long ago lost control. Now why would I bother to even review this flawed book on an event that is being forgotten? "Those who will not learn from history are condemned to repeat it." Vincet Veritas! And Long Live the Republic!

The definitive history of all that went wrong on December 7, 1941 and how things have not changed much since then  Nov 30, 2007
The scenario is as follows. The United States is the victim of an attack that kills a large number of people. Shortly after, the nation rallies and launches a war that lasts for years where many more people are killed. After the dust has settled, official hearings are convened so that the nation may know how it was possible that such an attack could be carried out. The commission formed to investigate comes back with a series of recommendations and it becomes clear that someone dropped the ball. There was a large number of intelligence and other warning signals that were ignored or dismissed. When people came forward and pointed out some of the failures, they were often rudely dismissed. The errors are so significant and widespread that there is some extremely circumstantial evidence that the American President knew that something was about to happen but did nothing about it.
The attacks on September 11, 2001 fit this scenario, but that is not the first time that this has happened to the United States. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese navy attacked the American Navy at Pearl Harbor, causing the United States to enter World War II. It was a case where many things had to go wrong on the U. S. side, but the greatest error was a consequence of the core belief that the Japanese were not capable of carrying out such an attack.
In this book, Prange puts forward a complete list of all the things that went wrong, from incompetence to a torrent of bad luck. Many people saw the danger flags and passed that information along, however it either went slowly up the chain of command or somewhere it simply fell off. This is truly a masterpiece of investigative work, Prange explains in detail how so many people and functions failed in their jobs on a day where many people died and most deaths could have been prevented. That also is a description of the events of September 11, 2001, demonstrating that the behavior of humans inside bureaucratic structures has remained constant since the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Thorough  Jan 31, 2007
The best book, hands down, for information on Pearl Harbor. It will take a long time to read, but is very interesting. Miracle at Midway by the same author is just as good. Excellent pictures and hundreds of references quoted, along with personal interviews. I've seen no other book is as thorough in its approach to the subject.
Slightly outdated ,requires revision  Sep 13, 2006
Gordon W. Prange studied Pearl Harbor raid ,events surrounding it, for 32 yrs.The outcome is this tome.

Author is vehemently critical on Adm Husban E. Kimmel (c-in-c Pacific Fleet) and Gen Walter C. Short( commander US Land Forces
,Hawaii). Both,according to him ,lacked qualities to command forces. They failed to show imagination,foresight at a time when things were becoming explosive in the Pacific.

This is untrue.Evidence shows upon the receipt of war warning message of Nov27,1941,Adm Kimmel mounted long range reconnaissance missions north of Hawaii to detect the presence of hostile ships within the strike radius of Pearl Harbor.Unfortunately Pacific Command never had sufficent planes at its disposal to maintain an all out vigil.This never would have happened if Washington officials not denuded Pacific fleet of its strength to fight an undeclared war against German U boats in the Atlantic. As a result critical gaps in the aircover remained which Japanese exploited.

Now we know two weeks prior to attack based on intelligence furnished Cdr Joseph J. Rochefort of Hypo(combat intelligence centre of US Navy located in Pearl Harbor naval yard)Kimmel instituted a search for Japanese carrier force operating north of Hawaii.He vectored the Pacific Fleet to an area from where Japanese planned to launch their surprise assault. But his efforts were frustrated. Once White House came to know about Kimmel's manoeuvre he was told to withdraw.This was in line with official order of turning north Pacific into a 'vacant sea'.Strangely this reversal of direction has been ignored by every Pearl Harbor enquiry held from 1941-46.Regretably,neither Kimmel nor his family could recall this sortie and its unfortunate reversal.Yet it provides exculpatory evidence because after the war Kimmel was accused of not conducting precisely this type of search.

Author says Japan's expansionist designs on east Asia made Pacific war inevitable.But it should be admitted ,as latest reaearch shows , regardless of Tokyo's ambitions US hatched a plan to push that nation on the road to war.As war raged in Europe and Africa ,threatning to engulf the world,a memorandum started circulating in the corridors of power in Washington.Written by Arthur H. McCollum (dated Oct7,1940 later called 8-ction memo)head of the Far Eastern Branch of ONI,it advocated a series of measures aimed at engineering a situation wherby Japan is force to attack American ground,naval,air,forces in Hawaaii as well as British and Dutch colonial outposts in the Pacific.With FDR's connivance the plan was put into effect.

Of particular importance to the defence of Hawaii were the crucial bomb plot messages . Its timely dispatch to Short,Kimmel would have stopped the Japanese attack on its tracks.Army radio intercept station MS 5 at Fort Shafter in Oaahu was regularly intercepting messages sent to Tokyo by Japanese spy ring which contained information on the where abouts of Pacific Fleet.Information sent on lowgrade ciphers was broken read by senior officers of US Army ,Naval intelligence.This clearly pointed to a Japanese intent to attack Pearl Harbor. Instead of promptly alerting the C in C PAC Washington officials sat on it.

It is military topbrass esconced in Washington who were unfit to exercise command.Are these men so obtuse,doltish that they failed to perceive the significance of these intercepts?Such an incredulous attitude stands to reason only if they had a hidden agenda.Unfortunately,author does not hold them fully accountable for Pearl Harbor defeat. We find this disturbing pattern emerging regarding other significant Japanese intercepts.Tokyo"s reply to American ultimatum of Nov 26,1941 which came in 14 parts
,decision to present Washington an ultimatum at 1pm EST all of which portended war.

I feel Prange's book , loaded with interesting facts and information, requires revision.History of Pearl harbor raid requires fresh interpretation ;facts which have emerged based on latest research have made this indispensible.Because if we are to believe authors like Stinnet,Toland Washington officials knew the attack was coming and they were awake.

More than 60 years have passed .Pearl Harbor raid and events surrouding it have continued to intrigue and fascinate me.I read Prange's book because I wanted to get different perspective on the subject.
Time marches on ...  May 24, 2006
This text should be highly valued in providing a first glance or survey of Pearl Harbor, but given the passage of time since its publication, it is now very dated.

With the release of newer materials, it should no longer be considered "definitive" or even "authoritative." It is also widely known to have several flaws (e.g., lacks the Brigg's interview) and factual errors (e.g., how are blinker lamps and signal flags "heard" in tactical radio circuits).

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