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Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan 1942-1945
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Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan 1942-1945

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  250 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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 politicia

MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Tantor Media, Inc. (first published 2010)
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Barrett Tillman does a wonderful job in Whirlwind in collating and interpreting information so that the reader has a clear and informed view of the air war in the final months of the Pacific campaign. His last chapter entitled legacy is a nice piece of interpretation that gave fresh insights to decades long arguments who won the war, the Air Corps or the Navy/Marine team Barrett's reply would be both but not without difficulties such as the admirals wanting to destroy the neutered Japanese fleet ...more
F.C. Etier
Feb 15, 2010 F.C. Etier rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adventure, war,history buffs
[Previously published on]

Did you know anyone who was in the WTC attack on 9/11/2001? Over 17,000 people from more than fifteen countries were in the two towers at the time of the attack. Two thousand six hundred five people died in New York alone. For me, it was two degrees of separation; a co-worker's cousin. Similar situation for my wife and dozens of others I've spoken with over the years. A young man from our home town died in the Pentagon attack. Compare this with the more
Somewhat mislabeled--this largely is a history of the B-29, with Naval Aviation and the Bomb tacked on. The style is a bit wooden. And it's a useful defense of area bombing and reference of reasons why the Bomb had to be dropped. But, it provides useful stats, and a few, though just a few, previously unknown facts.

The first is that the B-29, and its various predecessors were so relatively well armed because no long range fighter-escorts had been designed: "In short, the technological tail wagge
Walt O'Hara
Jun 13, 2012 Walt O'Hara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Barrett Tillman's study of the Air War against Japan is a remarkably fresh and interesting history. Tillman takes the reader from roughly the time of Midway to literally the last day of the Pacific War against Japan. The focus is primarily the aviation war against the Japanese Empire, primarily conducted by the Americans, and the steps taken to position America to invade the home islands of Japan. This is a story with many anecdotes and avenues, but it is primarily a tale of the development of t ...more
World War II historians seemingly have analyzed the air war over Europe down to the last .50-caliber slug. From the British fighter heroes who won the Battle of Britain to the massive American daylight bombing raids that helped bring the Third Reich to its knees, the record is thick on the library shelves.

Great naval battles like Midway and the Coral Sea deservedly have also been the subjects of considerable study. Much less has been said, though, of the men who flew the long, long B-29 missions
Don't be fooled by the cover - this book is not solely about the B-29 bomber offensive. Instead, it's a book that addresses the air war against the Japanese home islands and the surrounding coastal waters in all its forms, including naval air strikes. While comprehensive in scope, it is not particularly deep or detailed. Mr. Tillman keeps the prose very readable, even for the casual historian. Mr. Tillman also raises questions about the value of different air activities, such as the naval air st ...more
Michael Gerald Dealino
I got the impression that the author was trying to impress the readers by coming up with figures and with trivia, but still I found the book enjoyable and informative and reminds the world that Japan was not a victim of the Second World War, but an AGGRESSOR, INVADER, AND VICTIMIZER. Let us not forget the Rape of Nanking, Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, the abuse of prisoners, and the murder of civilians. Being an aggressor, it deserved to be inflicted the penalty of strategic bombing and ...more
Michael Flanagan
Whirlwind delivers a thorough examination on the American bombing campaign on Japan during WWII. From the initial Doolittle raid to the dropping of the bomb that changed warfare forever, this book is an engaging read. When I finished reading this book I felt like I had a great understanding of the politics and the men who fought on both sides of this conflict. With saying that the main part of the book is centred around the Americans with just enough of the Japan side of the story told to balanc ...more
A lightweight, quick history of the WWII bombing campaign against Japan. Tillman appears to have done some decent oral history interviews with American vets, and that adds some personal flavor to his account. And America's strategic bombing is by far his primary focus, with abbreviated accounts of the U.S. naval air campaign, and Commonwealth efforts.

He makes a half-hearted effort to integrate some accounts from the Japanese fliers involved, but it appears to have been mostly sourced from secon
The reviews made me think I was going to get the inside dope on the conduct of the air war against Japan in the last phases of WWII. It delivered details by the planeload, and I was interested to learn how early air power doctrine and far-thinking planners influenced the development of a long-range bomber capable of hitting Japan (the B-29 began development for just that purpose, well ahead of Pearl Harbor). It was also interesting to learn that India-based B-29s bombed Japan before bases in the ...more
Mike Dargan
Veterans of World War II are dying at a rate of some 2,000 each day. So, it's important for people like Barrett Tillman to collect oral histories so that they might be available to future generations. However, in his attempt to weave the anecdotes into a coherent narrative, his lack of historical and technical expertise is obvious. Time after time I found myself doing the arithmetic in my head and thinking, "couldn't the guy reread the darned thing before sending it to the publisher?" An example ...more
"My" war was WWII, of which I have personal memories, starting with Pearl Harbor. This concise book (271 pages without the index) reminds us of the scale of that conflict as we agonize over present-day conflicts. I watch public television and I appreciate the honor paid to fallen soldiers, one at a time. That would have been impossible in WWII, there were too many deaths. The numbers both fascinate and horrify: 720 bombers over Hamburg killing 45,000 people, 1,300 bombers over Dresden killing 25 ...more
Doug Vanderweide
You know that book that's at the bottom of your pile because, as interested in it as you are, you just figure it's going to be a chore to read?

That was my judgement of this book by its cover. But it turned out to be a far breezier, and considerably more enjoyable, read than my prejudice predicted.

Tillman turns in a strong effort here, carefully balancing the big-picture view with plenty of individual-action anecdotes. Particularly noteworthy is how he is able to name specific B-29 and other airc
João Martins
This book offers a good, not overly in-depth account of the air war against Japan. It covers the B-29 program as deployed on the Asian mainland and on the Pacific islands. It also covers naval actions against Japanese home territory, and the dropping of the atomic bombs.

The subject matter is extremely broad, encompassing both army and naval air forces, but it did feel a little too thin at times. Nonetheless, the author appears to have done his research work: most engagements have sortie/effectiv
I continue to read World War 2 books. At this point I have read enough that there are that many new stories, but I still think that the study of the war provides incredibly valuable lessons. Because the war was the biggest in history and so well documented, almost any question about war or security can be better understood by studying some aspect of the war. In books, I am no longer looking for books that answer What questions, so much as those that answer Why, Whether or How.

The air war against
D. Jason
Barrett Tillman's overview of the air war in the Pacific claims to be (and could very well be) the first comprehensive treatment of the subject in one book. He relies on various sources, including archival research and interviews with participants on both sides of the conflict, and the result is an engrossing read that leaves the reader with a good general overview, some interesting details that he had never encountered before (yes, even if you are an expert in the subject), and a hunger for muc ...more
James Teener
Both a chronological history and an examination of the whys and wherefores of same, this study of the air war against Japan is largely a history of the USAAF's strategic bombing offensive against the home islands. It barely touches on the George Kenny's air campaign in support of the SW Pacific, and looks at the Navy's carrier campaign only when it attacks the home islands in late 1944 through the war's end. Thus, it is mostly a study of B-san, the B-29 and the units that operated that airplane ...more
For anyone interested in history and particularly in history of the twentieth century this is an important book. First, it is thorough. Thorough in its historical detail of names, places and personalities of the era and thorough in its historical perspective, tying up the minutia of decisions both poor and proper that had to be made. Secondly it presents a broad overview of the ultimate outcome of the war in the Pacific. It was a revelation to me that the development of one aircraft, the B-29, w ...more
Dustin Gaughran
I liked the book, although I picked it up expecting something else entirely. It's not quite as advertised. It says a history of the air war with Japan, but in reality it's really a history of the B-29 bomber. With the exception of one chapter, it's all about the B-29, from it's conception, trials, deployment, and it's final place in history with the delivery of the two atomic bombs. Don't get me wrong, I learned many new things, and liked the book enough to recommend it to others interested in t ...more
Michael Bond
This book was a good, brief summary of the air war in the Pacific, focusing on the campaign against the Japanese home islands.
Rich Brown
Excellent account of the part the B-20 played in helping to win World War II. Tillman explores both sides of the war and leaves the leftist philosophy of moral equivalency out of the discussion.
Allen Stebbins
A frightening look at just what total war can mean.
Disappointing in that it is long on salty details but short on insight. Though I enjoyed many of the stories, they didn't feel connected. Mr. Tillman has done an admirable job of logging events and does return to a certain number of themes important in understanding the air war. But I don't feel like his tactical or strategic analysis ever rises above a pretty superficial level. I appreciated the individual experiences of airmen a lot, however, and for that reason the book is important reading f ...more
Thank God for Curtis LeMay.
Excellent book which provided new insights on both the Air Force and Navy campaigns against the home islands. Also brings to light the mistakes and poor handling of lower grade officers by both Hap Arnold of the Air Force and unnecessary missions endorsed by William "Bull" Halsey that caused a large amount of American casualties for little gain against a largely useless fleet of ships. Re-examines the reasons for the attacks, the results, and new perspective evaluations, many from the Japanese p ...more
Kirk Bower
Interesting accounts of bombing raids which many times are in the shadow of the European campaign and the Enola Gay.

Tillman establishes a thorough look of all aspects of the Air campaign against Japan. He illustrates the horror or what the fire bombings were like, the development of the B-29, the poor treatment of POWs, unprepared civil defense of Japan, and the issues through & after the dropping of atomic bombs.

It is a COMPLETE look of the Pacific Air Campaign.
Aug 22, 2013 Darrel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Darrel by: A friend
This is a good history, about an aspect of the Pacific War I know little about. The background information he imparts is valuable apart from the Pacific war. The difficulties endured by both sides plus the various planes and support infrastructure needed to prosecute the air was was very informative. I was disappointed that the book ended so soon. I am sure he could have written far more. For any WWII history buff, this is a recommended read.
Excellent book on the Air War in the Pacific during World War II. I have little knowledge of the events in that Theater during the war but I am working to change that. The accounts presented in this book as well as the overall facts surrounding the campaign made for great reading, and made me want to continue reading about the events in the Pacific.
Curtis Butturff
Looking forward to this title. Another argument one might make here is that it also concerns the emmergence not only of modern American air power but of transition from from World War One air battles to strategic bombing and other methodologies of terror from the air. Not just infrastructure destruction but psychological.
The book was dominated by the story of the B-29 and I felt it somewhat glossed over all the other aspects of the air war. That being said I enjoyed learning about the development and deployment of the B-29 and learned a number of things I had not heard about before. All in all I enjoyed the book.
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Born a fourth-generation Oregonian, descended from American pioneers, Revolutionary War Patriots, Pilgrims (e.g. Priscilla Alden) and Pocahontas, Tillman was raised on the family wheat and cattle ranch. His younger brothers include a breeder of exotic animals and a Rhodes Scholar. In high school he was an Eagle Scout[citation needed], won two state titles as a rudimental drummer, and was a champio ...more
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