To Wake the Giant by Jeff Shaara
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | Historical | ePUB | 4.0 MB
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.
This story covers a full year, from December 1940 through the events and horrific tragedy of December 7, 1941. It is a story of sincere efforts to avoid a war confronting sincere efforts to start one, as well as a story of both heroics and blind incompetence. And it is a story about people on opposing sides, both old and young, who are men of character and courage, men with keen insight and brilliance; and others who are men of immense ego, incompetence, and an astonishing level of blindness. But there is no one villain, and no single hero.
One challenge in telling this story is to avoid judgment of the participants on both sides. Many, or even most, Americans were encouraged by the media to believe that the Japanese were “funny little people” or a “godless horde,” as though they were a swarm of insects. I have inserted throughout this story actual quotes from various officials that, with our benefit of hindsight, display astounding ignorance. But such racism went both ways, as many Japanese viewed many Americans as rich, fat and lazy, spineless and weak, easy targets who would recoil in terror from any aggressive attack. And thus do wars start.
I did not expect how personal this history would become. My goal, always, is to dig into the minds of the characters so that I feel comfortable putting words in their mouths. My greatest priority is to do justice to those who earned it and to let those men or their families know they are not forgotten.
To Wake the Giant is told mainly from the points of view of three men in three very different locations.
In Washington, D.C., Cordell Hull is President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary of state, the diplomat responsible for bridging the dangerous gap between the United States and Japan. As such, he is exactly in the middle between Roosevelt, the American military chiefs, and the Japanese ambassador. Hull understands, more than anyone else in his government, that it is his duty to ensure good relations between the United States and every other country on earth—including, of course, Japan.
In Japan, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, a political moderate, is confronted by the growing power of the militants in his own government who advocate for war against the world’s great powers. Knowing that Japan cannot win such a war, he must ensure Japan’s survival by any means necessary. And thus Admiral Yamamoto devises a plan, a bold strike against the Americans that might grant Japan the time it needs to greatly strengthen its military.