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Whirlwind by Barrett Tillman, A Book Review

Discussion in 'The Pacific and CBI' started by George Patton, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    'Whirlwind' by Barrett Tillman chronicles the aerial campaign against Japan in WWII. The book starts with a general overview of early bombing developments in the interwar period, then continues to cover the Doolittle Raid, the Aleutian Raids and final the B-29/Task Force 38 campaigns in 1945. The book is equal parts strategy (why a raid/tactic was used) and conduct (first hand accounts by airmen).

    The Good:
    -The first book to provide a comprehensive overview of the aerial campaign of WWII. Most books I have read have only covered the late-war B-29/TF-38 campaigns.
    -Covers all of the major aerial campaigns in one way or another (Doolittle, CBI bomber raids, Aleutians, B-29 campaign, Task Force 38 and finally the British-Canadian carrier raids).
    -Provides a good overview of all aerial campaign elements -- from combat and strategy to inter-service rivalries and friction with the Soviets.
    -Accurately shows the 'politics' behind the B-29 campaign, which a lot of more general history books glance over (specifically Hap Arnold's desire to create an independent Air Force)
    -Mixes interesting and informative first hand accounts with the history of the aerial campaign. Some of the more notable stories include a story of a gunner left hanging outside his B-29, a MoH recipient who was severely wounded disposing of a prematurely lit flare and a gunner who evaded capture for 10 weeks on Hokkaido.
    -Very 'readable' -- it flows well, and can easily be read in two or three days.
    -Packs a lot of information into a relative concise 330 page book

    The Bad:
    -The length of the book limits what is in it. Tillman glances over some of the details (especially B-29 losses which, for the most part, are mentioned only in vague "# of bombers were lost"-type phrases). Its a good book, and I would have preferred an extra hundred pages so that more detail was included.
    -Tillman writes in a casual, non-academic style. I didn't have a problem with it most of the time, but some of the phrases he used became annoying after a while.
    -The Aleutian Campaign is cover in one of the appendices at the end of the book. Its almost like it has included at the last minute, as it should really have been its own chapter, arranged chronologically with the rest of the content.

    Final Assessment:

    This is a very good book, and I highly recommend it. Not only does it provide a good general overview of the aerial campaign, but it also provides a decent amount of specific information. You can't go wrong with this book. Rating: 4.5/5
     
    belasar likes this.
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I just got this book for my Nook tablet. I'll probably read it next after I get through, teary-eyed, the account of the Ploesti raid. I also have to re-read Jeff's book about Marion Sanford and the 30th Recon. I'm looking forward to both.
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Thanks for a great review. It is a sign of a enjoyable read that you wish it had another 100 pages, all to often I find myself wishing for the reverse.
     
  4. FalkeEins

    FalkeEins Member

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    ..glad you mentioned this - I found the book full of what I presume are 'americanisms' ( or should that be American colloquialisms) that were quite unfathomable even for a (relatively) well-read Brit who watches a lot of American TV...was looking forward to this, but quite disappointed ultimately..
     
  5. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    I know what you mean FalkeEins. As I said, some of the phrases become annoying after a while -- but it could be a real problem those not fluent in colloquialisms.
     
  6. Wgvsr

    Wgvsr New Member

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    If you're looking for a decent treatise on strategic bombing, might I suggest "Case Studies in Strategic Bombardment", edited by R. Cargill Hall. If you want to hone in on the War of Japan, you'll want chapter 4, "Strategic Bombing in the Pacific, 1942-1945". The price is certainly right, free to download at: http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-101012-036.pdf . It will likely take a while to download, it's a large file. Check back with the title index, this is the USAF Historical Studies Office page, http://www.afhso.af.mil/booksandpublications/titleindex.asp and has a world of good titles including the complete "Army Air Forces in WWII" series which is sister to Morison's naval studies.
    Bill
     

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