Gordon Prange

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Professor Prange teaching his history class at the University of Maryland in 1964 Gordon Prange.jpg
Professor Prange teaching his history class at the University of Maryland in 1964

Gordon William Prange (July 16, 1910 – May 15, 1980) was the author of several World War II historical manuscripts which were published by his co-workers after his death in 1980. Prange was a Professor of History at the University of Maryland from 1937 to 1980 with a break of nine years (1942–1951) of military service overseas, and in the postwar era of military occupation of Japan, when he was the Chief Historian in General Douglas MacArthur's staff. [1] It was during this time that Prange collected material from and interviewed many Japanese military officers, enlisted men, and civilians, with the information later being used in the writing of his books. Several became New York Times bestsellers, including At Dawn We Slept and Miracle at Midway .

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

University of Maryland, College Park public research university in the city of College Park in Prince Georges County, Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is a public research university in College Park, Maryland. Founded in 1856, UMD is the flagship institution of the University System of Maryland, and is the largest university in both the state and the Washington metropolitan area, with more than 41,000 students representing all fifty states and 123 countries, and a global alumni network of over 360,000. Its twelve schools and colleges together offer over 200 degree-granting programs, including 92 undergraduate majors, 107 master's programs, and 83 doctoral programs. UMD is a member of the Association of American Universities and competes in intercollegiate athletics as a member of the Big Ten Conference.

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.


Prange's 1963 Tora! Tora! Tora!, published in the November and December issues of Reader's Digest , and later expanded into At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story Of Pearl Harbor, portrayed the attack on Pearl Harbor, and is credited as the basis for the screenplay of the film Tora! Tora! Tora! , which was produced in 1970, while Prange took a leave of absence from the University of Maryland to serve as the technical consultant during its filming. His extensive research into the attack on Pearl Harbor was the subject of a Public Broadcasting Service television program in 2000, Prange and Pearl Harbor: A Magnificent Obsession, and was acclaimed "a definitive book on the event" by The Washington Post . [2]

<i>Readers Digest</i> magazine

Reader's Digest is an American general-interest family magazine, published ten times a year. Formerly based in Chappaqua, New York, it is now headquartered in Midtown Manhattan. The magazine was founded in 1922, by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace. For many years, Reader's Digest was the best-selling consumer magazine in the United States; it lost the distinction in 2009 to Better Homes and Gardens. According to Mediamark Research (2006), Reader's Digest reaches more readers with household incomes of $100,000+ than Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Inc. combined.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

<i>Tora! Tora! Tora!</i> 1970 American-Japanese war film

Tora! Tora! Tora! is a 1970 Japanese-American biographical war drama film that dramatizes the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The film was directed by Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku, and stars an ensemble cast including Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten, Sō Yamamura, E. G. Marshall, James Whitmore and Jason Robards.

Prange was a popular lecturer at the University of Maryland. The Terrapin, the university's yearbook, said of his World War I and World War II history classes: "Students flock to his class and sit enraptured as he animates the pages of twentieth century European history through his goosesteps, 'Seig Heils', 'Achtungs', machine gun retorts and frantic gestures". [3]

Yearbook publication documenting events of a year, often of a school

A yearbook, also known as an annual, is a type of a book published annually to record, highlight, and commemorate the past year of a school. The term also refers to a book of statistics or facts published annually. A yearbook often has an overarching theme that is present throughout the entire book.

Personal life

Gordon William Prange was born on July 16, 1910, in Pomeroy, Iowa. His parents were Al, a blacksmith and his wife Johanna. [4] He had one older brother Russell. He attended Pomeroy High School where he excelled in baseball and track athletics. He was also known as the class clown. [4] He graduated from Pomeroy in 1928 and enrolled at the University of Iowa intending to become a coach, but switched to history. He obtained his bachelor's degree, his Masters in 1934, and Doctorate in 1937. He studied at the University of Berlin in 1935 to 1936, during which he said: "I saw Hitler operate firsthand and heard him speak a number of times." [4]

Pomeroy, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Pomeroy is a city in Calhoun County, Iowa, United States. The population was 662 at the 2010 census.

University of Iowa public research university in Iowa City, Iowa, United States

The University of Iowa is a public research university in Iowa City, Iowa. Founded in 1847, it is the oldest and the second largest university in the state. The University of Iowa is organized into 11 colleges offering more than 200 areas of study and seven professional degrees.


In 1937 he married Anne Root, a professor's daughter from Iowa City. They had two daughters and a son. They moved to Maryland where Prange took employment as a history instructor at the University of Maryland. [4]


Prange died on May 15, 1980 in Baltimore, Maryland from cancer. He was 69. 'Prange Park' in Pomeroy is named after him. [4]

See also

Selected bibliography

All below by Gordon W. Prange, with Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon:

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  1. "Press Release: February 20, 2002 Exhibit of UM Prange Materials to Open at Hornbake Library" (Press release). University of Maryland Libraries. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  2. "What to Watch". The Washington Post . December 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  3. Terrapin 1964. College Park, Md.: University of Maryland.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Longden, Tom. "Gordon W. Prange". Data Central. Des Moines Register.