Book Reviews

So many books (you know the rest)

Calculated Risk: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle : Aviation Pioneer and World War II Hero
by Jonna Doolittle Hoppes
Published in 2005 (I finished it on August 15, 2018)

Wonderful and amazing story. I actually had never heard of Doolittle or the famous raid over Tokyo until the infamous “Pearl Harbor” movie.

And that’s really perplexing. I imagine it just wasn’t taught much in school, or maybe it was decades ago and not so much today. Or maybe I just slept through one too many classes. Nevertheless, this novel covers his life from childhood onward and does a fine job for the most part.

I believe the author is his daughter and she is quite creative in her writing, although some will cringe at some of her figurative language (“Cleveland left a bad taste in his mouth and he was eager to spit it out,” “Thick fog pressed against the window.”) It’s a very tough thing to balance this stuff just right, and the similes and metaphors do often come off as straight out of a 1940s cliché novel. But if one just is willing to accept that, then it’s fine.

As well, it’s certainly historical fiction at points, whereas the conversations are certainly invented (unless he somehow had a tape recorder or stenographer with him his whole life). Again, these are acceptable things, and the plus side is one gets perhaps a more personable story. She doesn’t sugar coat his whole life either. His life wasn’t perfect, but the good far outweighed the bad (from what we read about at least).

I think it’s fair to say we nearly all benefit from his ideas, research, and risks taken in aviation. Doolittle was a hero in more ways than one, and his book shares why.