Two Flights to Victory: From the Doolittle Raid to the Enola Gay. By David G. Styles. Stroud, UK: Spellmount, 2011. Tables. Diagrams. Photographs. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 286. $35.00 ISBN: 978-0-7524-6206-6
I'm going to cut to the chase right up front: this is the worst book I have read in over a decade as APH's Book Review Editor. It is poorly researched, marginally written and edited, and lacks scholastic qualities one would expect from a Ph.D. holder. About the only good thing I can say about the book is that it contains a great assortment of photos--some of which I have not seen before--although a number of them are captioned incorrectly.
The jacket states that Dr. Styles has earned many international awards for his nineteen books, most of which deal with cars. A former member of the RAF who later worked in the auto industry, he got into higher education and attended the 2002 and 2003 Doolittle reunions as a correspondent. From those events, he came up with the idea to write this book.
In his preface, Styles says that this "is the story of two great men [Doolittle and Tibbets] and two great missions." These missions are "the only two air attacks on Japan during the Second World War to have been organized outside any wider battle plan." That, in itself, is a pretty dubious statement. But the central assertion is "how Tibbets [sic] and Doolittle's paths had crossed [in North Africa] and how Doolittle had deliberately placed Tibbets in the position to be the obvious choice to lead the 509th Composite Group." Since Styles includes not a single footnote in the entire book, where this absolutely silly assertion comes from is unknown. On page 93, Styles talks about Tibbets' well-known problems with Lauris Norstad in North Africa in 1943 and says, "Doolittle ... was also aware of the Manhattan Project, to the extent that the B-29 was intended to play a role in ending the war in the Pacific by delivering a new weapon to a Japanese target." In his autobiography, Doolittle states on page 452, I was not privy to the secret before we received word on Okinawa that an atomic bomb had been dropped. Since the Eighth Air Force wasn't involved, I had no need to know what it was all about. So...