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Book Review: Mission to Tokyo

A review of Oakton author Robert F. Dorr's latest book

Book Review: Mission to Tokyo

Just as the air war shifted from the ETO to the Pacific, Robert F. Dorr shifts from his account of the air attacks on Berlin in B-17s to the air war in the Pacific.  Gone are the freezing B-17s, replaced with the pressurized, but engine plagued, B-29 Superfortress Bomber – on which the hopes of a Pacific air victory rode.  In this book Mr. Dorr describes the men and machines needed to bring Japan to its knees.  From Jimmy Doolittle’s 1942 raid on Tokyo, which was more of a morale boost than a mission with significant battle damage to the enemy, to the bold tactics envisioned and carried out by the XXI Bomber Command, under Maj General Curtis LeMay, to the Enola Gay mission to Hiroshima, this book chronicles pivotal periods of the air war against Japan.  LeMay’s innovative tactics of low level firebombing of Tokyo and other targets in Japan form the nucleus of this account.  During the first such mission in Feb 1945 some 100,000 people are estimated to have died in the resulting firestorm, more immediate deaths than either of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This book explains the need to capture the B-29 launching sites of Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, plus others such as Iwo Jima, where over 2000 Marines lost their lives, but which ultimately provided a place for over 2400 emergency landings after missions to Japan. One appreciates the importance of the air war when considering the human cost of invading the Japanese homeland.  The multiple fire-bombings and nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved hundreds of thousands of American lives for an invasion exponentionally more devastating than our bloody victories on such island hell spots as Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Kwajalein, Tarawa, Saipan, and others.  Using the same technique as his previous book, Mission to Berlin, Mr. Dorr focuses on one mission in Feb 1945 with preludes and postludes to envelope the reader in the nightmare of fighter attacks, enemy search beams, flak, ditchings, rescues, and capture to defeat an enemy determined to fight for every inch of Nippon homeland.  Catch a flight with these airmen on a mission to Tokyo through the lens of Robert F. Dorr.

Review by Jim Milstead, Lt Col Ret, USAF (SAC)

Robert F. Dorr, of Oakton, is an Air Force veteran (Korea, 1957–1960), a retired senior American diplomat (1964–1989), and the author of seventy books and thousands of magazine articles and newspaper columns about the Air Force and air warfare. Mission to Tokyo is a follow-up to his previous book, Mission to Berlin.

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