THE DOOLITTLE RAID: America's Daring First Strike Against Japan by Carroll V. Glines

THE DOOLITTLE RAID: America's Daring First Strike Against Japan

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Doolittle's Tokyo Raiders (1964), Glines provided the first detailed account of the bold air strike against Japanese cities mounted by carrier-based Army bombers less than five months after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Two years later, the author published Four Came Home, the story of the eight fliers under Doolittle's command who were captured by the Japanese. Subsequently, the former Air Force officer obtained additional information from eyewitnesses on both sides, which he has included in this gripping record of a mission that boosted American morale during a dark hour and ""scored direct hits on the Japanese psyche"" at a time when imperial forces had their foes in retreat throughout the Pacific theater. Glines offers a more narrowly focused recap of the operation than Duane Schultz, whose identically titled book is reviewed below. Having interviewed most of the surviving participants, he concentrates on individual experiences before, during, and after the assault. His approach highlights the courage of the young airmen without in any way scanting big-picture perspectives that confirmed the significance of their sacrifices. By any standard, the Doolittle raid (which originated with a submariner's suggestion) was an epic of intrepidity. On April 18, 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led a squadron of 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers from the deck of the Hornet in waters about 650 miles east of Japan's home islands against targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe, and Nagoya. Following their low-level bombing runs, 15 of the volunteer crews flew through stormy skies to occupied China, where they bailed out or crash-landed; one aircraft wound up in Russia, where its five-man crew was detained for over a year. All told, 64 fliers--including Doolittle (aided by missionary John Birch)--made it home within weeks or months of the raid. Their escape, however, cost thousands of Chinese civilians their lives at the hands of vengeful Japanese. In the meantime, a triumphant FDR was telling reporters with winks and nods that the raiders had taken off from Shangi-La (the Tibetan retreat in James Hilton's Lost Horizon). An altogether splendid reprise of a glorious chapter in American military history. The engrossing text includes 16 pages of black-and-white photographs (not seen).

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0887403476
Publisher: Crown