WHIRLWIND by Barrett Tillman


The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945
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Military-aircraft expert Tillman (What We Need: Extravagance and Shortages in America’s Military, 2007, etc.) delivers a blow-by-blow history of the Allied air offensive against Japan during World War II.

The author begins with a flourish, chronicling the dramatic April 1942 bombing mission known as the Doolittle Raid. The first time that the Japanese mainland had ever been bombed, the raid did not hit all of its intended targets, but it proved that Japan was vulnerable to attack—a true boon to American morale after Pearl Harbor and a psychological blow to the Japanese. It was the kickoff to years of aerial conflict between the two military powers. Tillman documents that part of World War II from the initial U.S. planning stages before Pearl Harbor to the last missions in the aftermath of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Along the way, he lavishes attention on the equipment involved, such as the then-new B-29 Superfortress, an enormous and powerful heavy bomber that also provided logistical problems for American strategists. Tillman also ably brings across the personalities of several key military leaders, including Curtis LeMay, who commanded B-29 operations. It will come as no surprise that Tillman has written dozens of books on World War II aviation—he clearly knows his subject—and the sheer amount of detail can at times be a bit daunting, particularly for readers unfamiliar with military histories. But the author is a smooth stylist, and World War II history buffs will find much to enjoy.

Tightly focused, sure-footed military history.

Pub Date: March 2nd, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4165-8440-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2010


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