The First Heroes

You may have seen the movie classic 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, the WW II story of the 1942 Jimmy Doolittle bombing raid on Japan. Craig Nelson now tells the story behind the story of the men, their families and their fate. ... A fascinating book. .... Frank Laughter

Book Cover The First Heroes
By Craig Nelson

The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid

America's First World War II Victory

The Doolittle Raiders, as they became known, were a squadron of eighty scarcely trained young men led by the famous daredevil aviator Jimmy Doolittle. Their mission -- the daring World War II bombing raid of Tokyo and other cities in April 1942 -- was successful until Japanese spies forced most of the squadron to crash-land in enemy-occupied China, where pilots were ferried underground across the country to safety. One plane landed in the Soviet port of Vladivostok, where the crew was eventually smuggled out of the country through Persia (now Iran). Others were captured by the Japanese, confined to years of imprisonment and torture. The fact that 90 percent of the men involved came home alive was little short of a miracle.

Extensively researched, including interviews with twenty of the twenty-seven remaining survivors, The First Heroes vividly recreates America's first great victory of World War II. Craig Nelson follows the Doolittle Raiders from their secret training on a Florida airfield to their tense days in transit across the Pacific to the bombing itself and finally to their courageous accounts of survival against astonishing odds. This story of America's striking back at its enemies after a vicious surprise attack will resonate widely with the general public today and is sure to appeal to all readers of Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation.

Available at Penguin-Putnam: The First Heroes

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