To Wake the Giant: A Novel of Pearl Harbor

TO WAKE THE GIANT                                 JEFF SHAARA

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt watches uneasily as the world heads rapidly down a dangerous path. The Japanese have waged an aggressive campaign against China, and they now begin to expand their ambitions to other parts of Asia. As their expansion efforts grow bolder, 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 Mussolini’s Italy, 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 German U-boats that are devastating shipping. But despite deep concerns about weakening the Pacific fleet, 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, Kichisaburo Nomura, who is little more than a puppet of his own government. In 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 decode radio signals and detect the location of the Japanese fleet, but when the airwaves suddenly go silent, no one has any idea why. And from a small Depression-ravaged town, nineteen-year-old Tommy Biggs sees the Navy as his chance to escape and happily accepts his assignment, every sailor’s dream: the battleship USS Arizona.

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. In this story of innocence, heroism, sacrifice, and unfathomable blindness, Shaara’s gift for storytelling uses these familiar wartime themes to shine a light on the personal, the painful, the tragic, and the thrilling—and on a crucial part of history we must never forget.


Here is mister Sharra's take on Pearl Harbor through the eyes of many different people. You have the ones in our government, the Japanese government, Yamamoto who is planning the attack but also knows that they will be awakening a sleeping giant. The two friends in Florida who join up before Pearl Harbor and what happens to each one of them. What is happening in the world from Europe, China to the spy in Hawaii that has been taking and sending pictures. To the lack of communication from Washington to Pearl about what is really going on with the negotiations with the delegation from Japan to even MacArthur thinking that nothing will happen and that it is just a lot of talk.
When you get to the start of the attack the author takes you to what most people must have thought was going on that morning confusion, panic, then horror and finally pissed. You get a true sense of what everyone was feeling that day for everyone including medical staff seeing the men that start coming in.
What is really interesting is that when my wife and I took the tour to see the Arizona years ago that with all of the bombs that were dropped if just one had hit the storage tanks off to the side where the submarines were that actually would have done more damage to our Navy than the ships that they destroyed. Those tanks held all of the gas, oil, fuel for the ships for the Pacific Fleet.
Going through the story this way is very different and yet it was good to see it from all of the different sides. Then having the decision made that going to Europe would be the main focus, not the Pacific. That part has always surprised me. When you get to the end of the book the author takes you through the investigations about the attack and the two commanders Kimmel and Short were reduced in rank and held responsibly. In 1999 they would be given back their rank and not held responsible. What has always bothered me about all of the investigations is that MacArthur did not follow with any of the orders he was given about spacing of the planes and other orders yet he did nothing, yet nothing is ever said about him and his arrogance. When you get to the end of the book you still want the story to continue. A very good once again. I received this book from I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at

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