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Library Journal HOPPES, JONNA DOOLITTLE. Calculated Risk: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle-Aviation Pioneer and World War II Hero.
Santa Monica. 2005. c.336p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-891661-44-2. $24.95. BIOG
Hoppes, a granddaughter of famed aviator Jimmy Doolittle (1896-1993), has written a loving joint memoir of her beloved Gramps and his wife, Joe.
Relying on conversations with her father, memories of her grandparents, extensive letters they wrote, and secondary sources, Hoppes tells a well-known story. She focuses on Jimmy's stunning achievements in test flying and engineering and, of course, the remarkable raid he led on Tokyo in 1942.
Hoppes portrays Jimmy's wife as the ultimate helpmate who devotes her life to her husband and his career. The author doesn't always sugarcoat, however, and covers information not included in Doolittle's own autobiography (I Could Never Be So Lucky Again). She talks briefly about a love affair Jimmy had and his wife's forgiveness, as well as the suicide of their son, Jimmy.
Although military history specialists will learn little new from this account, it can serve as an appealing, well-written introduction to general audiences. Archival photographs are included.
General Jimmy Doolittle is best remembered for leading an air strike over Tokyo in 1942. He also was the first aviator to fly cross-country in under 24 hours (in 1922) and the first to fly blind, using only his plane's instruments. He won numerous speed trophies, was awarded many medals, and commanded three air force groups during the war.
This book is a memoir written by Doolittle's granddaughter, in which she recounts her grandfather's early life in Nome, Alaska, and his years in the service. He served on an aerobatics team, studied the mechanical side of flight, and promoted strategic bombing that significantly altered the course of World War II.
The author also describes her grandmother's public role, including attending War Bond rallies, USO functions, and Red Cross fund-raisers. Doolittle drew on such sources as her grandfather's wartime letters to his wife and hundreds of letters sent to them over the years. A personal account of a very public man.
Calculated Risk: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle, by Jonna Doolittle Hoppes (334 pages, March 2005), is a heartfelt memoir by the granddaughter of the famed aviator and general whose most renowned exploit was the April 1042 one-way bombing raid on Japan.
However, before the war he was well-known as a daredevil stunt pilot who broke world speed records, performed an outside loop for the first time, and pioneered equipment and techniques for instrument flying.
Hoppes shows that what the public saw as reckless was actually her grandfather's carefully calculated risk-taking. Unlike other Doolittle bios, she looks at the role of this wife and lifetime partner Josephine.
An intimate portrait, with many photos from the Doolittle Library at the University of Texas-Dallas. $24.95, Santa Monica Press, ISBN 1-891661-44-2
Publisher's Weekly Calculated Risk: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle-Aviation Pioneer and World War II Hero Doolittle Hoppes, Jonna (Author) ISBN: 1891661442 Santa Monica Press Published 2005-03 Hardcover, $24.95 (360p) Historical - U.S.; Military; Aviation - History
Reviewed 2005-03-21 PW
A barnstormer, a prize-winning air racer, a key strategist and flier in major WWII bombing campaigns, an eventual air force general and a pioneer of engineering test piloting (blind flying and the outside loop)--Doolittle (1896-1993) is a familiar figure to air buffs.
This affectionate but not uncritical biography by one of Doolittle's granddaughters usefully supplements existing material, particularly the autobiography I Could Never Be So Lucky Again . It recounts almost a century of achievements, from surviving an abusive childhood in Alaska to high school athletics, learning to fly and marrying his high school sweetheart during WWI.
Along the way, before getting to Doolittle's notable achievements in WWII and afterward, we get wife Josephine's perspective on such things as their sons raising birds in their room, long winter flights in a family plane with no heating and her husband flying with both ankles in casts and having affairs with New York models.
Even allowing for a granddaughter's partiality and occasional lapses of style, Josephine Doolittle emerges as a heroic figure in her own right (a pioneer in what would now be called counseling PTSD veterans) and in every respect a worthy match for her husband, who seems to deserve all the praise he has received. (Apr. 2005)
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