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In December 1941, as American forces tallied the dead at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt gathered with his senior military counselors to plan an ambitious counterstrike against the heart of the Japanese Empire: Tokyo. Four months later, on April 18, 1942, 16 US Army bombers under the command of daredevil pilot Jimmy Doolittle lifted off from the deck of the USS Hornet on a one-way mission to pummel the enemy's factories, refineries, and dockyards and then escape to Free China. For Roosevelt the raid was a propaganda victory, a potent salve to heal a wounded nation. In Japan, outraged over the deaths of innocent civilians - including children - military leaders launched an ill-fated attempt to seize Midway that would turn the tide of the war. But it was the Chinese who suffered the worst, victims of a retaliatory campaign by the Japanese Army that claimed an estimated 250,000 lives and saw families drowned in wells, entire towns burned, and communities devastated by bacteriological warfare.
At the center of this incredible story is Doolittle, the son of an Alaskan gold prospector, a former boxer, and a brilliant engineer who earned his doctorate from MIT. Other fascinating characters populate this gripping narrative, including Chiang Kai-shek, Lieutenant General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, and the feisty Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, Jr. Here, too, are indelible portraits of the young pilots, navigators, and bombardiers, many of them little more than teenagers, who raised their hands to volunteer for a mission from which few expected to return. Most of the bombers ran out of fuel and crashed. Captured raiders suffered torture and starvation in Japan's notorious POW camps. Others faced a harrowing escape across China - via boat, rickshaw, and foot - with the Japanese Army in pursuit.
Based on scores of never-before-published records drawn from archives across four continents as well as new interviews with survivors, Target Tokyo is World War II history of the highest order: a harrowing adventure story that also serves as a pivotal reexamination of one of America's most daring military operations.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jonathan Love on 06-13-16
Vengence is Mine, Thus Sayeth Doolittle
With all the war movies out there, I'm deeply surprised and disappointed that the only modern day film that addresses the Doolittle Raid is Pearl Harbor and after reading this book, most of that part of the film seems apocryphal.
The Doolittle Raiders are truly American Heroes who really set off on America's only Kamikaze style raid (i.e., they really didn't think they would be coming home) only to actually survive the raid; some who survived probably wished they hadn't. However, the Pearl Harbor sucker punch had to be answered regardless of other circumstances and it seems Jimmy Doolittle was destined to be the man to introduce Japan to American ingenuity, technology, tenacity, and retaliation.
I knocked down the 'story' rating to 4 stars because I felt the technical aspects of training weren't really there. It was more like a quick overview of the birds. Additionally I felt some backstory to the volunteers would have been pertinent toward the beginning. You do get some of this but inserted throughout the narrative and then mostly at the end when discussing the aftermath of the raid on Tokyo.
Overall this account superseded my expectations and feel that both the author and narrator did a great job with this book.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By James Walters on 05-22-15
Great characters headline a little known story
James Scott once again brings a cast of characters to life in a thoughtful, gripping and heart-breaking story. I thought I knew something about the Doolittle raid... I was wrong. This book spans the globe, visits small town America and frozen Siberia, via a daring and controversial raid on Tokyo - and is as surprising as it is packed with detail.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful