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A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight

A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight
Autor: Robert J. Mrazek
Data publikacji: 2009-10-00
ISBN: 9780316056533
Wydawca: Back Bay Books
Język: angielski
Wymiary: 20.8 x 14 x 4.1 cm
Oprawa: miękka
Liczba stron: 560
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Opis produktu:

Author Robert Mrazek's first non-fiction volume is a winner. It's the story of the men of Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) during World War II like you've never seen it before. Mrazek went over the top in tracking down all of the squadron's remaining members and recording their reminisces about Midway and Guadalcanal to the fullest extent one could imagine. We've long read of the gallantry of the USS Hornet's VT-8 aircrews at Midway and how their sacrifice was a vital factor in the "incredible victory," but this book goes well beyond the familiar Midway story. It gives the reader insight not previously seen on the men involved, including the good as well as the bad.

About half of the book focuses on that part of VT-8's history that is seldom remembered: their participation in the Solomons campaign. Although the tragedy of the Hornet's VT-8 aircrews at Midway could hardly have been worse, it was over with in less than an hour, while on Guadalcanal the squadron's detachment there endured months of brutal attrition during the long Japanese campaign to retake the island.

But the book isn't primarily about wartime history; instead it tells of the men who lived VT-8's portion of that history. There are new revelations about their celebrated commander, John Waldron, plus the aircrews that died with him at Midway. But as expected, there is a great deal more about those who went on to Guadalcanal, including the new commanding officer, Lt. Harold "Swede" Larsen. It turns out that Larsen was an insufferable martinet, as miserable a leader of men as anyone who ever disgraced a leader's uniform. At the other extreme, there are ample tales of the honorable service of the pilots and enlisted men who helped make VT-8's legacy despite the excesses of their skipper.

The book does have several factual errors that readers well-versed in this subject matter will spot, like referring to Japanese "Betty" bombers as carrier aircraft. But none of those detract from the book's essential value, which is a superb telling of the VT-8 story like it's never been told before. Highly recommended.


Academically trained historians too often reduce gripping events to soul-parching compilations of cautious statements that only the most generous might grace with the term "narrative." On the flip side, journalists attempting to write works of history sometimes jettison their skepticism; the result is often a great story but not very good history. In his first foray into history, Mrazek captures the best of both approaches, avoiding hagiography and telling the story of Torpedo Eight and the war in the Pacific as it was, not as some might wish it had been.

Robert J. Mrazek is the author of Stonewall's Gold, winner of the Michael Shaara Prize for Best Civil War Novel of 1999. A five-term Congressman, he co-authored the law that saved the battlefield from being bulldozed. He lives in upstate and .

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