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Cover image for A dawn like thunder : the true story of Torpedo Squadron Eight
A dawn like thunder : the true story of Torpedo Squadron Eight
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Little, Brown and Co., 2008.
Physical Description:
xiii, 526 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
The sentinels. Smiley ; The skipper ; Swede ; The squire ; Old Langdon ; Tex ; Bert and Harry ; Grant and Whitey ; Ozzie and Rete ; Freddy -- Eventide -- He that she live this day and see old age -- When the sea shall give up its dead -- Sister Sara -- Dog Day -- The galloping dragon -- Resurrection blues -- The canal -- The groove -- Divine fire -- Out of the ashes -- Swede's refrain -- Homeward bound -- Appendix 1. The undaunted Mr. Weisheit -- Appendix 2. "They're still out there."
An account of the contributions of World War II's Torpedo Squadron Eight traces their role in key U.S. victories at Midway and Guadalcanal, citing the honors achieved, and losses suffered, by its thirty-five members.
Conference Subject:


Call Number
940.54 MRAZEK
940.54 M87
940.545 Mrazek
940.54 MRAZEK
940.545973 Mrazek 2008
940.54 MRAZEK

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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 Thunderis 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 www.adawnlikethunder.com.

Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

Satisfying thought excessively popularized history of the bomber group that, legend has it, won the Battle of Midway. In the History Channel version, during the darkest days of World War II American carrier planes took off on June 4, 1942, to attack the immense Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island. Orders called for a simultaneous strike, but the planes separated, and Torpedo Squadron Eight sighted the enemy first. Attacking at sea level and unprotected by American fighters, the slow bombers were easy meat for defending Japanese Zeros, which shot down every plane. No torpedo struck home, yet these men did not die in vain. While the Zeros were preoccupied, American dive-bombers arrived overhead and attacked unopposed, sinking the Japanese carriers and winning the battle. Novelist and former congressman Mrazek (The Deadly Embrace, 2006, etc.) provides 200 pages of gripping details that do not tarnish the squadron's heroism but reveal spectacular incompetence among higher commanders. Two months after Midway, the survivors fought around Guadalcanal, a second critical battle in which outnumbered Americans inflicted a crushing defeat on the Japanese. While their role was less crucial, the squadron's bombers inflicted considerable damage, becoming the most decorated naval air unit in history but also the one suffering the highest combat losses. Similar books concentrate on fighters and traditional bombers, so this account of torpedo planes offers an original perspective. Serious history buffs will be irritated by the docudrama style, which features invented dialogue and purports to reveal characters' thoughts and feelings, often up to the moment they die. Yet events undoubtedly happened more or less as Mrazek describes, and his massive original research has produced a richly detailed story that never flags. Despite the lowbrow historiography, an admirable addition to the histories of air battles that turned the tide against the Japanese. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Novelist and former U.S. congressman Mrazek has written an admirable history of the Torpedo Squadron Eight, legendary to World War II buffs. Most of the squadron, flying off the U.S.S. Hornet for the Battle of Midway in obsolete Devastators, perished in a famous low-level attack. But six more modern Avengers flew from Midway itself, and the survivors in them formed the nucleus of a squadron that went on to fly Avengers off the carrier Saratoga until it was damaged by a submarine attack, and then from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal in the climactic stages of the campaign for the island. Mrazek has made painstaking use of written sources and the personal memories of surviving members of the squadron to produce a long book, but one that will keep students of the crucial year 1942 reading assiduously. A boon to the literature of the WWII Pacific theater and of naval aviation.--Green, Roland Copyright 2008 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Mrazek (Stonewall's Gold) brilliantly captures the bravery of Squadron Eight in World War II's pivotal battle of Midway and the unit's subsequent involvement at Guadalcanal. Presented in logbook format, the author's clipped narrative offers fascinating vignettes of the aviators' prewar lives. At Midway the squadron, in obsolete torpedo bombers without fighter protection, was ordered to attack Japanese carriers-and was nearly decimated. Mrazek indicts the captain and air commander of the formation's carrier, the USS Hornet, for this fiasco and intimates that the squadron may have been used as a decoy to benefit high-altitude dive bombers as they took the greatest toll on the enemy flattops. Following Midway, Squadron Eight was reassigned to the USS Saratoga as part of a task force charged with expelling the Japanese from Guadalcanal. Mrazek's gripping account of the group's bombing activities is rich in detail and tactical analysis. A special treat is Mrazek's winsome epilog, which details the postwar achievements of the surviving squadron officers and men. A well-written and meticulously researched account of one of America's most distinguished World War II aerial groups; recommended for general military and aviation collections and all libraries.-John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.