This blog not in the habit of making commercial plugs and I don’t think of this item in that way, really. Rather, I take delight in calling my readers’ attention to a wonderful book that would make a great gift for the holidays. It is A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight, which was just named by the Washington Post as one of the “Best Books of 2009″ in American history.
Robert Mrazek, the author, is a fellow former congressman who has simply written a gem of a book here. I reviewed it earlier this year for The Oregonian. Anyone who enjoys history and/or the heroism of ordinary people will find this book coompletely arresting.
It tells the true story of how a single squadron of American fliers probably turned the tide of the battle of Midway Island and Guadalcanal and, with them, war in the Pacific, the conclusion of which allowed Roosevelt to turn full attention to Nazi Germany. If he had not been able to do so, Europe and the world might look very different today.
Yet Mrazek does not glorify war. Instead he recounts the moment to moment experience of ordinary individuals who confronted, in extraordinary ways, a fateful challenge they did not seek.
The book reads like a novel but rests on meticulously researched fact. If one wants a sample of the mettle of The Greatest Generation, it’s here, in the story of individuals whose names you have never heard, who helped turn the hinge of history …