• Dead Reckoning

  • The Story of How Johnny Mitchell and His Fighter Pilots Took on Admiral Yamamoto and Avenged Pearl Harbor
  • By: Dick Lehr
  • Narrated by: Will Damron
  • Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (197 ratings)

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Dead Reckoning

By: Dick Lehr
Narrated by: Will Damron
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Publisher's Summary

The definitive and dramatic account of what became known as "Operation Vengeance" - the targeted kill by US fighter pilots of Japan's larger-than-life military icon, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the naval genius who had devised the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor.

“AIR RAID, PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NO DRILL.” At 7:58 a.m. on December 7, 1941, an officer at the Ford Island Command Center typed what would become one of the most famous radio dispatches in history, as the Japanese navy launched a surprise aerial assault on US bases on Hawaii. In a little more than two hours, more than 2,400 Americans were dead, propelling the US’s entry into World War II.

Dead Reckoning is the epic true story of the high-stakes operation undertaken 16 months later to avenge that deadly strike - a long-shot mission hatched hastily at the US base on Guadalcanal. Expertly crafting this "hunt for Bin Laden"-style WWII story, New York Times best-selling author Dick Lehr recreates the tension-filled events leading up to the climactic clash in the South Pacific skies - frontline moments loaded with xenophobia, spycraft, sacrifice, and broken hearts.

Lehr goes behind the scenes at Station Hypo on Hawaii, where US Navy codebreakers first discovered exactly where and when to find Admiral Yamamoto, on April 18, 1943, and then chronicles in dramatic detail the nerve-racking mission to kill him. He focuses on Army Air Force Major John W. Mitchell, the ace fighter pilot from the tiny hamlet of Enid, Mississippi, who was tasked with conceiving a flight route, literally to the second, for the only US fighter plane on Guadalcanal capable of reaching Yamamoto hundreds of miles away - the new twin-engine P-38 Lightning with its fabled “cone of fire”.

Given unprecedented access to Mitchell’s personal papers and hundreds of private letters, Lehr reveals for the first time the full story of Mitchell’s wartime exploits up to the face-off with Yamamoto, along with those of key American pilots Mitchell chose for the momentous mission: Rex Barber, Thomas Lanphier, Jr., Besby Holmes, and Ray Hine. The spotlight also shines on their enemy target - Admiral Yamamoto, the enigmatic, charismatic commander in chief of Japan’s Combined Fleet, whose complicated feelings about the US - he studied at Harvard - add rich complexity. In this way Dead Reckoning offers at once a fast-paced recounting of a crucial turning point in the Pacific war and keenly drawn portraits of its two main protagonists: Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of Pearl Harbor, and John Mitchell, the architect of the Yamamoto’s demise.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.  

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 Dick Lehr (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Dead Reckoning

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Outstanding

A story from WWII not as widely discussed as many other topics told in incredible detail. The start is a little slow as the author tries to introduce the characters in more detail than is probably required. But hang in there and get through it bc the main story itself and the evolution of this Air Force group is worth the read.

5 people found this helpful

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Half Soap Opera, target audience 20 something male

I'm surprised I listened to as much of it as I did. Getting thru the initial background of parents, grandparents and childhoods was trying for me. Moving on, there are some interesting sections but they are sandwiched in between cliche-like love letters, girlfriend relationships, college kid behavior, mistresses and in general a non-interesting effort to fill out the personalities. The book reads nothing as you'd expect given the title. My review is harsh in part because I kept the faith, waiting for the book to become interesting enough to finish it, and in the end, feel I wasted my time.

4 people found this helpful

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Recognition denied

In this age where GPS navigation is taken for granted, MAJ Mitchell’s navigation & timing to the intercept location is nothing less than astounding! He really should have gotten the Congressional Medal of Honor.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent book, gripping story

Excellent book, the author does a great job giving credit to those responsible for their actions in avenging the attack on Pearl Harbor.

2 people found this helpful

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Recommend

Well written and voice acting was very good. Recommend to WW2 students/scholars. I could not put it down.

2 people found this helpful

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Great story of an unknown American Hero

Well written, great story, performed well. Reads like a novel. Wonderful story of a modest professional hero and the team that flew the mission to kill Yamamoto.

2 people found this helpful

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Gives credit where it's due

Overly sympathetic to Yamamoto, this a dual biography and broad surface-level overview of Pacific war.

1 person found this helpful

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A Bit Contrived

This book was decent. It provides an interesting biography of Johnny Mitchell, who led the group of P-38s that shot down Admiral Yamamoto in World War II, with the exception that it really tells very little of Johnny's life after the war (there is some followup, but it's pretty cursory). The book also provides an interesting and pretty balanced biography of Admiral Yamamoto. The part of the book devoted to the mission itself is well told, but is only a fraction of the book.

Despite this, I found the book somewhat annoying in several ways. First, and most importantly, it is written as if this were a contest between the two protagonists that developed over the years. The book will provide background on Johnny and then on Yamamoto, seemingly leading up to an inevitable confrontation. This struck me as a trite literary device. Johnny Mitchell was a skilled pilot and leader who, like many others at the time, was simply doing his part to win the war. He was determined by his superiors to be the right person to lead an exceedingly difficult mission, and that proved to be an excellent choice. But that's really all there was to it, not an inevitable contest that reached a climax after decades.

Second, there are some glaring errors at the beginning of the book: Referring to the battleship Arizona as a "destroyer" and quoting Roosevelt's famous speech asking for a declaration of war as referring to December 7, 1941 as a "day" that will live in infamy (Roosevelt said "date"). Are these big errors? Maybe not to the general reader, but they are huge to those familiar with the history of World War II.

Third, there is a small part of the book that refers to the experience of Americans of Japanese descent being interred. That is an important story in itself, but it struck me as out of place in this book.

The narration is decent.

1 person found this helpful

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My only criticism is that the book is too short

Loved every minute of the work. Thank you for writing it. Especially loved the after-the-fact historical context.

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World War II History

This is an excellent book about the history of aviation in the Pacific during the Second World War. As the daughter of a B-17 pilot from that era, it is interesting and educational to learn specific details about that part of the war. It is written with particular attention to detail. Having heard stories about Guadalcanal and Muroc Air Base, I found this accurate and expansive. As a student of history, I found the details about the politics and the withholding of the Medal of Honor accurate as well.