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  • To Wake the Giant

  • A Novel of Pearl Harbor
  • By: Jeff Shaara
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 19 hrs and 1 min
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

The New York Times best-selling master of military historical fiction tells the story of Pearl Harbor as only he can in the first novel of a gripping new series set in World War II's Pacific theater.

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 listener 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, 19-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.

©2020 Jeff Shaara (P)2020 Random House Audio

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  • DPM
  • 22-05-20

Simplistic in the extreme

Against the glowing reviews by the Amazon listeners/readers, I was very disappointed with this. I have read or listened to most of Mr. Shaara’s books, but this was by far the most “preachy“ and unrealistic. By that I mean that as I was listening to the dialogue of and between the historical figures such as Roosevelt or Cordell Hall, I felt I was being lectured (at about a grade 9 level) rather than what would have, in reality, been said between these and other historical figures. Again, and again, and again I found myself saying “they just didn’t speak that way in reality“. And even the “lectures” were hugely simplistic. The only interest in the book for me was, ironically, the fictional character Tommy Biggs. Quite to the contrary of the summary of the book that “Shaara opens up the mysteries of just how Japan could launch one of history‘s most devastating surprise attacks“ we are given only Yamamoto‘s often repeated assertion “To buy us time!“ And none of Japan’s historical motivation, I ended up, so as not to waste the credit, putting it on 1.5 speed to get it over with, but I was very glad I didn’t pay $40 for the hardcopy version. If you have even the slightest knowledge of the history of Japan, and/or Pearl Harbor, and want a bit more, save your credit and instead get “Countdown to Pearl Harbor: the 12 days to the attack“ by Steve Twomey ( which has the added benefit of being considerably better narrated then “To Wake the Giant) .

I won’t return this audiobook book, notwithstanding I am, as a Platinum-member, entitled to do so, but I am very sorry to have purchased it.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Barbie Koncher
  • 02-06-20

My Family Home

My mother and my grandparents watched the destruction of Pearl Harbor from their home on the top of Wilhelmina Rise. My mother was 17 and was affected by this terrible event for the rest of her life. She's still with us at age 97 but the memories are mostly gone. My father was with Admiral Halsey's Task Force and they were not in the harbor. He spent the rest of the war on various Navy ships, including the USS Hornet, which he was delivered to in the middle of the night via a Bosun's chair. Jimmy Doolittle was leading his Raiders over Tokyo and my dad was a cryptologist. He saw much of the war in the Pacific and while enroute to the Invasion of Normandy, his ship, USS Block Island, was sunk by a German U Boat in the Atlantic. He was rescued and taken to Casablanca. He had been married to my mother for less then a month. He loved the Navy and stayed for 30 years. This book really brought the attack on Pearl Harbor alive for me. Thank you. I was born in Honolulu, retired to Kona, Hawaii several years ago after travelling and living all over the world and working for the Department of Defense for 26 years including stints in Coronado, Saigon, Subic Bay, Roosevelt Roads (Puerto Rico) and the Pentagon. More historical fiction like this please.

9 people found this helpful

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  • M. R. Peterson
  • 07-06-20

I wanted to like this, but...

Numerous times I wanted to stop listening and return the book. I didn't because I hoped it would get better, and I learned some history of the year leading up to Pearl Harbor. The dialogue between the historical characters did not ring true; I found it contrived. For an example of a book of historical fiction where the dialogue seemed authentic, listen to The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.

6 people found this helpful

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  • gary elrod
  • 25-05-20

Great read

I have a degree in history, was a Surface Officer in the Navy and my observation is based on my education and military experience. This book is a great read. It will not drown the reader/listener with to much information. The story is presented from the views of levels of the chain of command. It was a pleasure to listen to and I highly recommend it.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Joseph
  • 09-12-20

Disappointing. Recommend skipping.

As a former sailor, there was appalling little research about Navy jargon and slang. I found each chapter on Biggs to be cringeworthy and terrible. The author shows no recognition or idea about simple things like what a “plankowner” is. Or the difference between a Chief or a Petty Officer. Any sailor would’ve corrected all of that immediately.

The narrator’s pronouncing of “Geedunk” was like nails on a chalkboard.

My wife who married me while I was in the Navy listened for about 30 minutes at one point, and she burst out laughing about how bad the writing was. I found myself apologizing telling her that, “I was just trying to hurry through and finish it.”

Disappointment is an understatement. Buyer beware.

3 people found this helpful

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  • GSS
  • 04-05-21

History becomes a personal story.

A subject that has been written about so many times comes to life with Shaara's entertaining and insightful style. It is as though an eyewitness is telling the whole story and historical figures become real people.

1 person found this helpful

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  • McKinley L. Donnor
  • 08-07-20

More lazy research

Jeff Shaara is the Derek Zoolander of authors, he only has one "look" and no one else seems to get it. In the words of Will Ferrell "I feel like I am taking crazy pills!" Shaara puts in lackadaisical, wikipedia level research and enters his tried and true method of narration. For example, "He thought about __________" "He walked to the door, opened it." "He thought of ________, said, "No admiral you wouldn't understand it" And Bramhall only makes it worse. The only narrator to make a Jeff Shaara mildly entertaining and help cover up the simplistic nature of Mr. Shaara was Grover Gardner. Take out the names and places and insert all of the other dialogue, verbiage, tone, etc. from his other 15 novels and you get the Jeff Shaara plug and play. "He thought about typing the review, wondered if it would do any good. Thought, "no admiral, you must do this." Sigh.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-09-22

great

loved it a great book I could not stop listening to it I love true stories

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  • eclectic reader
  • 14-05-22

An excellent perspective on the park harbor attack

Park harbor certainly changed the world. The exploration of the thoughts and actions of those involved in US Japan relations in the time before the war is enlightening. Shaara provides great historical insight into war.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-02-22

Enjoyable

I can’t say I was just dying to start listening again whenever I had to turn it off for awhile, but it was a good listen, and it accurately depicted the bombing of Pearl Harbor.