Gordon W. Prange
  • Gordon W. Prange

  • Date of birth: July 16, 1910
  • Died: May 15, 1980
  • Born: in Pomeroy, Iowa, The United States.

  • Description: A graduate of the University of Iowa, from where he received his Ph.D. in 1937, Gordon Prange began his teaching career as a professor of history at the University of Maryland. In 1942, he was granted a leave of absence from the University to embark on a wartime career as an officer in the United States Navy. Sent to Japan in 1945 as a member of the American Occupation Forces, after completing his Navy service he continued in Japan as a civilian from 1946 to 1951 as chief of General Douglas MacArthur's 100-person historical staff. When censorship of the Japanese media by Allied Forces was lifted in 1949 and the Civil Censorship Detachment disestablished, Professor Prange, recognizing the historical significance of the CCD material, arranged for its shipment to the University of Maryland. The materials arrived at the University in 1950. On September 15, 1978, the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland passed a motion to name the collection the 'Gordon W. Prange Collection: The Allied Presence in Japan, 1945-1952.' Professor Prange continued to teach at the University of Maryland until several months before his death on May 15, 1980. He is still remembered by alumni as one of the University's truly great teachers, and is well known today for major works on the war in the Pacific, particularly Tora! Tora! Tora!" The Terrapin, the University of Maryland's yearbook, said of his World War I and World War II history lectures in 1964: "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.

    Dr. Prange's manuscript about the attack on Pearl Harbor is credited as the basis for the screenplay Tora! Tora! Tora!, filmed in 1970 while Prange took a leave of absence from the University of Maryland to serve as technical consultant during its filming. His extensive research into the attack on Pearl Harbor was the subject of a PBS television program in 2000, "Prange and Pearl Harbor: A Magnificent Obsession", and was acclaimed "a definitive book on the event" by The Washington Post.