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Whirlwind

The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945
Narrated by: Mel Foster
Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4 out of 5 stars (97 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Whirlwind is the only book to examine in depth the human drama behind the most important bombing campaign in history. While the air war against Nazi Germany has been covered in-depth by many books, Barrett Tillman, a renowned authority on military aircraft and the air war in the Pacific, is the first to tackle the air war against Japan.

For decades, historians and politicians have debated whether or not Japan was on the verge of surrender in August 1945 - before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tillman argues that for all the widespread death and suffering, the bombing of Japan remains a great example of air power's ability to end a long, bitter, and bloody war without invasion.

Writing from the perspective of the aircrews and the generals and admirals who commanded them, Tillman examines all aspects of the human drama of the war, combining historical analyses with the words of survivors from both sides of the bomb.

©2009 Barrett Tillman (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

“A blow-by-blow history of the Allied air offensive against Japan during World War II.... Tightly focused, sure-footed military history.” ( Kirkus Reviews)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Good, but ultimately disappointing

I misunderstood this book to be one about the entire air effort of the allies against Japan in the Pacific theatre. It is, however, limited to a study of the effort to bomb Japan itself. There is an interesting section about the attempt to bomb Japan with B-29's from China and discussions of the need to fire bomb and then to drop the atom and hydrogen bombs. Unfortunately there is way too much data and not nearly enough personal interest. The book suffers eventually from the constant narration of the numbers of planes in particular raids, how much tonnage was dropped, how many planes returned, etc. There is very little about or from the fliers themselves - though the introduction notes the veterans are dieing away and their stories with them. And there is too much about the generals and admirals. This book would have benefited greatly if it included much more about those whose rank was less than Major. It fits in my library of WW2 books and resources, but it is more of a reference book than an engaging and personal history that warrants a reread.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A workmanlike effort

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

For someone unfamiliar with the air war against Japan, this book provides a good summary of the history and some worth while glimpses into what it meant to fly in that struggle. For this sort of reader, it is well worth the read.

Any additional comments?

This is a good basic book. For readers with a more sophisticated grasp of World War II history, this book doesn't add anything new or startling. As I said, a workmanlike effort.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carroll
  • Hilo, HI, United States
  • 09-08-11

A great study of the Pacific Air Campaign

This was well researched, logically presented, full of great factoids & examples. I loved it.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • wendy
  • Newark, NJ, United States
  • 05-05-10

Great book

This was a wonderful book to listen to- really brought the period alive. The narrator did an excellent job!

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rindt
  • Sheboygan, WI, United States
  • 09-17-19

Another great volume by Tillman!

For starters let's just say that Tillman has never failed to provide great history, great writing and substantial works to the fields of Aviation history. his scholarship knowledge of the men involved personal interviews and intimate knowledge of the aircraft themselves makes this another great volume from which to learn.
This book provides a balanced look at both the Navy and the Army Air Force in the second world war in the Pacific. It is not just another set of gun camera stories, but typical Tillman's scholarship, it discusses the logistics, the tactics, the strategies, the aircraft as technology and weapon, and Japan as a strong willed enemy while still giving one a close look into the people involved on all levels of the campaigns to victory.

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  • Anonymous (Australia)
  • 10-24-15

Excellent Book

While I was expecting a more detailed assessment of the use of air power against Japan in the Pacific, such as in the notable carrier battles, this book is specifically focussed on operations against the home islands. Nevertheless, it is a brief and insightful read. The book is primarily informational, but the author does draw some conclusions of his own (which are all backed up by facts).

I would have preferred the book was longer, as operations against many Japanese cities are not detailed individually, but all of the key themes regarding strategic bombing in Japan(technical, military, political, moral, historical) and their effects are detailed in an engaging and readable way.