The First Heroes

  • by Craig Nelson
  • Narrated by Raymond Todd
  • 17 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Immediately after Japan's December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt sought to restore the honor of the United States with a dramatic act of vengeance: a retaliatory bombing raid on Tokyo itself. In those early days of World War II, America was ill-prepared for any sort of warfare. But FDR was not to be dissuaded, and at his bidding a squadron of scarcely trained army fliers, led by the famous daredevil Jimmy Doolittle, set forth on what everyone regarded as a suicide mission. The First Heroes is the story of this extraordinary mission, a moment in history that is surprisingly unfamiliar today. To give these heroes their due, Craig Nelson interviewed 20 of the surviving participants and researched more than 40,000 pages of archival documents.
Here is a true account of great personal courage and a powerful reminder that ordinary people, when faced with extraordinary circumstances, can rise to the challenge of history.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Heroic Attempt

This was an heroic attempt by the author to present a detailed recounting of what at the time was an heroic effort by the fledgling AAF to retaliate for Pearl Harbor and give the United States a psychological lift at the beginning of World War II after the U.S. had suffered defeat after defeat. It is long, it is detailed, it is tedious, yet most of it is good listening, but you have to want to hear it.
But, where do they get readers who pronounce "ensign" as "en sign" rather than "N-sn", or "cpl", the abbreviation for corporal as "c.p.l."? Would you believe "boatswain"?
I can't recommend this book to anyone unless they have an abiding interest in hearing the details of this mission, and what happened to each of the eighty crewmen who took part in the raid.
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- William

Sloppy naval research

I really, really wanted to like this book. I'd just finished Hornfischer's outstanding "Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" and wanted some more inspirational reading. Unfortunately, the author has no - and I repeat no - required knowledge of the US Navy. There are many, many small, factual errors that are really annoying - referring to the HMS Repulse as a "cruiser", describing the Japanese torpedoes as "two feet long", etc, etc. Anyone with even a basic knowledge of the US Navy in WW2 should have been given an opportunity to preview this book before publication. Additionally, his overuse of military jargon - bombs referred to as "cabbages", torpedoes as "eels" by such a rank amateur was just too much.

The narrator has no idea regarding correct pronunciation of naval terms - (en-sine, indeed.)

I find that when there are so many factual errors in an area that I'm familiar with, I have a tough time accepting the new - often interesting on its face - data that an author brings up. It's too bad that such a terrific topic couldn't have been treated more professionally. I read "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo" as a kid and really was looking for some new information. I blame the editors completely for this second rate attempt.
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- Mark

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-06-2004
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.