cover image Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War

Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War

Bob Greene. Morrow, $25 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97849-6

Riding the same wave of nostalgia and admiration that Tom Brokaw surfed in his acclaimed The Greatest Generation (1998), Chicago Tribune columnist Greene (Chevrolet Summers, Dairy Queen Nights) delivers a heartfelt tribute to his father's generation in this triangulated memoir. Called back to his hometown (Columbus, Ohio) to say good-bye to his dying father, Greene decides to seek out his father's longtime hero--an 83-year-old fellow WWII vet and Ohioan named Paul Tibbets. Tibbets was the man who, as a 29-year-old lieutenant colonel, piloted the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Combining excerpts from his father's wartime journals, interviews with Tibbets and his own personal recollections, Greene pays homage to the ideals of his father and conveys successfully what WWII meant to men of that generation. Meanwhile, through his conversations with Tibbets, Greene comes to better understand his late father. Like the aging pilot, Greene realizes, his father felt that the freedoms these men had fought for in the war are unappreciated by today's younger generations, and, like Tibbets, his father was angry about postwar cultural changes. Regrettably, what is occasionally a touching salute by a grieving son is marred by credulousness and overly dramatic prose. Greene's admiration and respect for the pilot of the Enola Gay even manages to get in the way of his well-honed investigative skills-- for example, he accepts with little follow-up Tibbets's assertion that he never had any regrets whatsoever about dropping the bomb. And Greene's relentlessly uncritical depictions of Tibbets's seemingly unreflective, unemotional and gruff persona--as well as his nostalgia for traditional values--wears thin. (June)