Friday, January 2, 2009

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

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

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

One of the great untold stories of World War II finally comes to light in this thrilling account of Torpedo Squadron Eight and their heroic efforts in helping an outmatched U.S. fleet win critical victories at Midway and Guadalcanal. These 35 American men--many flying outmoded aircraft--changed the course of history, going on to become the war's most decorated naval air squadron, while suffering the heaviest losses in U.S. naval aviation history.
Mrazek paints moving portraits of the men in the squadron, and exposes a shocking cover-up that cost many lives. Filled with thrilling scenes of battle, betrayal, and sacrifice, A DAWN LIKE THUNDERis destined to become a classic in the literature of World War II.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #6577 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-12-08
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 544 pages

  • Editorial Reviews

    "A remarkably vivid tale of valor, fate, and young men dying young. Mrazek's epic story, reconstructed with breathtaking research and recounted with a novelist's keen eye for detail, is a worthy monument to Torpedo Squadron Eight." (Rick Atkinson, author of The Day of Battle )

    "The most highly decorated Navy Flyboys of World War II flew through hell and suffered the highest combat losses. Strap yourself in as Robert Mrazek takes you on a heroic flight into history." (James Bradley, author of Flyboys )

    "Robert Mrazek brings the dare-devil pilots of Torpedo Squadron Eight back to life in a narrative so vivid and heartbreaking that their courage reaches across the decades, leaving us moved by their incredible sacrifice and heroism." (Thurston Clarke, author The Last Campaign )

    "A Dawn Like Thunder is no ordinary history. It is a soaring epic prose ballad about a group of young Americans whose rendezvous with destiny in 1942 at Midway and then Guadalcanal blazed a trail their whole generation would follow. With an amazing depth of research and a keen eye for detail, Mrazek has brought to vivid life an enduring tale of human tragedy and triumph that will speak down to the latest generation." (Richard B. Frank, author of Downfall )

    "Robert Mrazek has, with a raw, unsparing telling given grace and life to so many who died so young, so every-day, so gallantly. Wonderfully uplifting." (Frank Deford, author of The Entitled )

    "A marvelous book. Mrazek's research and obvious affection for his heroes is indeed extraordinary. A Dawn Like Thunder is a spectacular achievement and a vital addition to any Pacific War library." (Hon. Charles Wilson of Charlie Wilson's War )

    "A Dawn Like Thunder hooked me from the first page and didn't let go. Mrazek has written the definitive account of how the few American pilots of Torpedo Squadron Eight changed history at Midway and Guadalcanal. A stirring, truly heroic book that is destined to become a classic." (Alex Kershaw, author of The Longest Winter )

    About the Author
    Bob Mrazek is 62 years old and grew up in Huntington, N.Y. He graduated from Cornell University in 1967 with an AB degree in political science. From 1967-1968, he served in the U.S. Navy.

    After working on the Washington staff of U.S. Senator Vance Hartke (D-Ind.), he was elected in 1982 to the U.S. Congress, defeating John Le Boutillier, the Republican incumbent in Long Island's "Gold Coast" district on the north shore of Long Island. Just the fourth freshman in the history of the House to be elected to the Appropriations Committee, he served ten years, announcing in 1991 that he would not stand for re-election.

    In 1990 Bob Mrazek authored the law that saved the 17 million acre Tongass National Forest in Alaska from being clear-cut by the two largest pulp companies in the U.S. Mrazek also authored the Amerasian Homecoming Act, a law that brought more than 16,000 sons and daughters of American military personnel from lives as street children in Saigon to the U.S. Congressman Mrazek was also the original sponsor of the Landmark Preservation Act, a law that saved the Manassas Civil War battlefield from becoming a "mega-mall." He also wrote the National Film Preservation Act, a law that established the National Federal Registry of master film works in the Library of Congress, for which he received a career achievement award from the Director's Guild of America.

    Mrazek was named Conservationist of the Year by the National Parks and Conservation Association and earned the Commissioner's Preservationist Award from the Governor of New York. Since his retirement from Congress, he has served on the boards of several charitable organizations, including ten years as Chairman of the Washington-based Alaska Wilderness League. In 2004, he received the first annual Happel Award from the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust for his work in battlefield preservation.

    His first novel, Stonewall's Gold, was chosen as a featured selection of the Literary Guild, a main selection of Reader's Digest Select Editions, and won the Michael Shaara prize for the best Civil War novel of the year. His second novel, Unholy Fire, was published by St. Martin's Press, and received similar critical acclaim. His third novel, The Deadly Embrace, was published by Viking Press, and won the W.Y. Boyd prize for the best military fiction of 2007.

    A Dawn Like Thunder is Mr. Mrazek's first non-fiction book. It was chosen as a main selection of the Military and History Book Clubs.

    Bob Mrazek lives and writes in upstate New York and Maine.

    For more information, visit

    Customer Reviews

    Awesome read...5
    This book was given to me as a Christmas present. Fantastic selection! The author speaks the language of the naval aviator and expertly reveals the multiple personalities that make up a combat squadron. Those who have flown missions in any conflict will appreciate the detail. All will understand the incredible sacrifice of a small group of men. Very, very good read.

    Best read on the heroic story of Torpedo 8 at the Battle of Midway and on Guadacanal that I have ever read. I also highly recommend Fred Mears book "Carrier Combat" if you can find it. My uncle (now deceased and buried at Arlington National Cemetery) was a Marine Combat Aviator who flew missions out of Guadacanal against Rabaul. My uncle died when I was very young but my Father (also a WW II veteran) first told me about the story of Torpedo 8. This is a fantastic book. Should be required reading in our public schools and colleges.

    They Sacrificed Themselves So Others Might Survive5
    Author Robert J. Mrazek has written a compelling and informative read about a heroic squadron of pilots who sacrificed themselves against vastly superior odds. This is the story of Torpedo Squadron Eight and their unselfish contribution to the defeat of Japan in the early stages of the Pacific war.

    During the pivotal Battle of Midway in June, 1942, this brave group of men, flying obsolete aircraft, nevertheless fearlessly attacked the Japanese carrier striking force. Forty-five of the forty-eight men in the squadron were killed that day. But, they cleared the way for the Dauntless dive bombers by bringing the Japanese fighters down so low that they couldn't react once the dive bombers started their dives. The end result was the loss of four Japanese carriers, and the turning of the tide inexorably toward Japan for the rest of the war.

    After the battle of Midway, torpedo eight was based on the American carrier USS Saratoga. From here, the new pilots participated in many attacks against the Japanese fleet during the Battle of Guadalcanal. After the Saratoga suffered a torpedo hit and was forced to withdraw, the men of torpedo eight became part of the Cactus Air Force based on Guadalcanal. During their time on Guadalcanal, torpedo eight pilots helped sink numerous enemy ships, including 2 battleships, a light carrier, and several cruisers and destroyers. After Guadalcanal, the squadron was disbanded and its pilots were assigned to new squadrons.

    This is an excellent book. The author does a fine job of introducing the reader to some of the pilots in the squadron. He also describes in great detail the heroic sacrifice these men made at the Battle of Midway and the sweet revenge they were able to extract at Guadalcanal. I've read many works of naval history, and I would rate this book as one of the best I've read.

    I give this fine book my highest recommendation. The action is non-stop, and the author does a fine job of detailing America's first two offensives in the Pacific war. This book is a must-read for naval history fans.

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