Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid that Avenged Pearl Harbor
James M. Scott. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015. 672 pp. Biblio. Illus. $35.
Reviewed by Stephen L. Moore
The Pacific Fleet was still smoldering at Pearl Harbor in December 1941 as American war planners began plotting a counterstrike at the heart of Japan. President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a bold initiative to use two of the Navy’s precious aircraft carriers to slip within launching distance of the Japanese mainland to send twin-engine Army B-25 bombers against Tokyo.
The mission was led by 45-year-old Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, a famed stunt and racing pilot whose enthusiasm for the project was contagious. The resulting Doolittle Raid is well known, but the level of detail unearthed on both the American and Japanese sides by author James Scott is refreshing. The reader has a front-row seat for meetings between Roosevelt and his staff and the subsequent joint Army-Navy efforts to pull off what Doolittle dubbed “Special Aviation Project No. 1.”