Next book

TO WAKE THE GIANT

An exciting war story that will provide a better understanding of Pearl Harbor.

In Shaara’s dramatic historical novel, America sleeps while Japan carefully plans a vicious wake-up call.

Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and seaman Tommy Biggs will never meet, but their stories weave together and culminate in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Biggs is a 19-year-old Florida kid who has no skills but baseball and joins the Navy as a way out of poverty. He’s excited to be assigned to the battleship USS Arizona, where he serves as a hospital apprentice. Hull sees through Ambassador Nomura’s lies that Japan does not seek conquest—while it is in the process of overrunning Asia. American cryptologists decode Japanese diplomatic messages, but they reveal nothing of military intentions. Yet Hull understands that “in Japan, a great many people are hoping for a war.” FDR reads a secret report that Japan would launch a surprise attack before declaring war and dismisses it as “a real gem.” Others call the idea absurd. American short-sightedness stems from a lack of imagination, scant military intelligence, and a widespread racist attitude that the Japanese were physically incapable of, say, skilled piloting. Powers higher than Yamamoto want a war with America, but he knows Japan cannot win a protracted fight. So he argues successfully for a quick, paralyzing strike to “severe[ly] damage” the U.S. fleet using airplanes to “show those people how ugly a war can be.” The diligent, honorable Biggs puts up with guff from a petty officer who has lived his life at sea and dreads his upcoming forced retirement. Then comes the attack and aftermath: the explosions and flames, the shrapnel and body parts, the blood and burns. Suddenly, America is wide awake. Shaara interviewed many Japanese as well as Americans for this deeply researched, nonjudgmental account of Pearl Harbor and its prelude.

An exciting war story that will provide a better understanding of Pearl Harbor.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12962-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 55


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 55


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

Next book

JAMES

One of the noblest characters in American literature gets a novel worthy of him.

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as told from the perspective of a more resourceful and contemplative Jim than the one you remember.

This isn’t the first novel to reimagine Twain’s 1885 masterpiece, but the audacious and prolific Everett dives into the very heart of Twain’s epochal odyssey, shifting the central viewpoint from that of the unschooled, often credulous, but basically good-hearted Huck to the more enigmatic and heroic Jim, the Black slave with whom the boy escapes via raft on the Mississippi River. As in the original, the threat of Jim’s being sold “down the river” and separated from his wife and daughter compels him to run away while figuring out what to do next. He's soon joined by Huck, who has faked his own death to get away from an abusive father, ramping up Jim’s panic. “Huck was supposedly murdered and I’d just run away,” Jim thinks. “Who did I think they would suspect of the heinous crime?” That Jim can, as he puts it, “[do] the math” on his predicament suggests how different Everett’s version is from Twain’s. First and foremost, there's the matter of the Black dialect Twain used to depict the speech of Jim and other Black characters—which, for many contemporary readers, hinders their enjoyment of his novel. In Everett’s telling, the dialect is a put-on, a manner of concealment, and a tactic for survival. “White folks expect us to sound a certain way and it can only help if we don’t disappoint them,” Jim explains. He also discloses that, in violation of custom and law, he learned to read the books in Judge Thatcher’s library, including Voltaire and John Locke, both of whom, in dreams and delirium, Jim finds himself debating about human rights and his own humanity. With and without Huck, Jim undergoes dangerous tribulations and hairbreadth escapes in an antebellum wilderness that’s much grimmer and bloodier than Twain’s. There’s also a revelation toward the end that, however stunning to devoted readers of the original, makes perfect sense.

One of the noblest characters in American literature gets a novel worthy of him.

Pub Date: March 19, 2024

ISBN: 9780385550369

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

Close Quickview