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The First Heroes: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid - America's First World War II Victory

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  • Posted December 9, 2010

    Photos not included in NOOKbook file

    Please be aware that photographs included in the hardcopy editions have been deleted from the NOOKbook e-file.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2004

    Does Little for Doolittle

    This book is a mixed blessing. While there is much of value in its quotes from the surviving Raiders and their perspectives on their mission and its aftermath, the author makes too many basic mistakes in his recounting of history (he has the 'Prince of Wales' and 'Repulse' being sunk more than two weeks after they actually were; infers that G4M 'Betty' bombers took part in the Pearl Harbor attack, calls B-25 Mitchell bombers 'Billys,' etc.). The book seems padded and wanders, too often, into irrelevancies. In the fewest words, 'Glines did it better' in his books about the Doolittle Raid. Get this one from the library and skip the extraneous stuff -- of which there's a lot. But the personal Raider insights are indeed valuable to the serious student of military history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2009

    The First Heroes

    I gave this book to my husband for father's day gift. He usually doesn't take time to read very much except the newspaper. But he was very interested in this book. I could tell that it was well written to hold his interest. The book became a topic in our everyday conversation. I plan on reading it and plan on passing it on to other family members

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2007

    The next 'Band of Brothers?'

    The author states the book resulted, at least in part, from how surprised he was that so many people he ran into weren't aware of the Doolittle Raid. I found the same to be true for me, which is why the book should be turned into a mini-series along the lines of 'Band of Brothers.' Nelson's book does wonder, but it does so mostly in the first half of the book. Despite the wondering, Nelson kept the story intriguing. I actually found the story of what happened AFTER the raid far more interesting! Without a doubt, a great read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2004

    First Heroes? True Heroes!

    'First Heroes' is what I would consider a great book and something that I would recommend to anyone interested in history. It relayed a sense of purpose and dedication that staggers my imagination to know that the men written about, from Col. Jimmy Doolittle to everyone else involved, were willing to jump into a plane knowing that the odds were more than stacked against them. To read what those who were captured went through, the dangers involved for the Chinese Nationals, many seeing their first every white man, and their willingness to help the downed flyers and the relative lack of help that the four were interned by our 'allied' Soviets makes the book a fast and intense read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2003

    You Won't Put This Book Down!!!

    The story of the Doolittle Raid is incredible in and of itself. Mr. Nelson's treatment of the subject is riveting, inspirational, and breathtaking! You can hardly believe what these eighty men experienced prior to and after this mission. Mr. Nelson includes declassified information about Japanese attacks on our West coast and German U-boat attacks to ships on our Eastern seaboard. You will discover little known facts about America's level of preparedness in 1941. You will read direct quotes from some of the Raiders, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2003

    History on One Wing

    By Bill Marsano. Craig Nelson, who would rescue the Doolittle Raid from oblivion, is an odd choice for the job. Despite parents who were both involved in WWII aviation and who "filled my childhood with stories of daring raids [and], secret missions," Nelson says, "I didn't know a thing about it." Astonishing--still, writing on a clean slate, unencumbered by what everyone else has written and said, can be insightful and fresh. That's something Nelson should bear in mind next time. There are good things here--the words of the 16 bomber crews themselves, their wives and sweethearts, and other participants. They make fascinating reading from beginning to end--the hasty, secretive training; the daring if slightly hare-brained idea itself (launching B-25 bombers from an aircraft carrier was a first, and the crews had practiced only on land); the raid itself; the crews' subsequent and usually succesful evasion of the Japanese after landing in China. There are harrowing tales from prison by crewmen who were captured and brutally mistreated, and follow-ups on the flyers' later combat service and postwar lives. Almost all of this material comes from archives or published sources. There's little new here, but 60 years after the fact that's understandable: Nelson says one of the surviving raiders died even as he was arranging an interview); Never mind: The raiders' own words tell most of the story and tell it well. Unfortunately, a lot of the book is written by Nelson himself, and he isn't much of a writer, what with his clunky prose style (the aircraft carrier is a "giant city of steel" and a "steel behemoth") and frail grasp of idiom (radio tubes "warmed into gear"). To push his claim that the raid was America's "first victory." Nelson prefers cheerleading to facts. First, it was a success but not a victory--it was a hit-and-run raid plain and simple. Second, it wasn't even the first raid: The Navy had been attacking Japan's Pacific bases for months before Doolittle's raid. Nelson's failure to even mention those raids is inexcusable. He adds comic-book touches--prattling about "flyboys" and "bell bottoms," calling bombers "egg layers," torpedos "eels" and ships "tin"--and a whiff of the locker room, too: Doolittle, Nelson says, had "balls the size of your head" (each? both?) and "balls of steel." The factual errors are minor technical slips, but their sheer quantity suggests ignorance, haste and poor research by Nelson, and negligence by his editor. Nelson's B-25s have "steel fuselages" and "diesely" engines that are "turbines"; a take-off run is a "taxi," and they could outrun Japanese Zeroes. Which is more ludicrous, Nelson's "Klondike mecca of Nome" or his claim that the Wright Brothers' fourth flight (852 feet, nearly three football fields) was "shorter than the wingspan of a Boeing 747"? The book lists about 300 sources, of which one-third seem woefully unauthoritative--they're nothing more than TV shows, press clippings and websites. Was Nelson concerned with getting the story right--or just getting it written?

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