CALCULATED RISK: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle—Aviation Pioneer and World War II Hero

Jonna Doolittle Hoppes, Author . Santa Monica $24.95 (334p) ISBN 978-1-891661-44-0

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.)

Reviewed on: 03/21/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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