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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 2069
AUTHOR: Isoroku Yamamoto (1884–1943)
QUOTATION: I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to ISOROKU YAMAMOTO, a Japanese admiral in World War II, in the motion picture Tora, Tora, Tora.—Twentieth Century Fox, Tora, Tora, Tora; Dialogue and Cutting Continuity, reel 18, p. 16 (1970).

The screenplay was written by Gordon W. Prange, based on his unpublished material, and by Ladislas Farago, who had published his The Broken Seal in 1967. The sentence is not in Farago’s book, nor did it appear later in Prange’s book, At Dawn We Slept, published posthumously in 1981.

No evidence exists that these words were Yamamoto’s. However, in a letter to Ogata Taketora, dated January 9, 1942, Yamamoto wrote, “A military man can scarcely pride himself on having ‘smitten a sleeping enemy’; in fact, to have it pointed out is more a matter of shame.”—Hirosuki Asawa, The Reluctant Admiral, trans. John Bester, p. 285 (1979).
SUBJECTS: World War II (1939–1945)