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Book Review: Mission to Tokyo

A review of Oakton author Robert F. Dorr's latest book

Just as the air war shifted from the ETO to the Pacific, Robert F. Dorr shifts from his account of the air attacks on Berlin in B-17s to the air war in the Pacific.  Gone are the freezing B-17s, replaced with the pressurized, but engine plagued, B-29 Superfortress Bomber – on which the hopes of a Pacific air victory rode.  In this book Mr. Dorr describes the men and machines needed to bring Japan to its knees.  From Jimmy Doolittle’s 1942 raid on Tokyo, which was more of a morale boost than a mission with significant battle damage to the enemy, to the bold tactics envisioned and carried out by the XXI Bomber Command, under Maj General Curtis LeMay, to the Enola Gay mission to Hiroshima, this book chronicles pivotal periods of the air war against Japan.  LeMay’s innovative tactics of low level firebombing of Tokyo and other targets in Japan form the nucleus of this account.  During the first such mission in Feb 1945 some 100,000 people are estimated to have died in the resulting firestorm, more immediate deaths than either of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This book explains the need to capture the B-29 launching sites of Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, plus others such as Iwo Jima, where over 2000 Marines lost their lives, but which ultimately provided a place for over 2400 emergency landings after missions to Japan. One appreciates the importance of the air war when considering the human cost of invading the Japanese homeland.  The multiple fire-bombings and nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved hundreds of thousands of American lives for an invasion exponentionally more devastating than our bloody victories on such island hell spots as Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Kwajalein, Tarawa, Saipan, and others.  Using the same technique as his previous book, Mission to Berlin, Mr. Dorr focuses on one mission in Feb 1945 with preludes and postludes to envelope the reader in the nightmare of fighter attacks, enemy search beams, flak, ditchings, rescues, and capture to defeat an enemy determined to fight for every inch of Nippon homeland.  Catch a flight with these airmen on a mission to Tokyo through the lens of Robert F. Dorr.

Review by Jim Milstead, Lt Col Ret, USAF (SAC)

Robert F. Dorr, of Oakton, is an Air Force veteran (Korea, 1957–1960), a retired senior American diplomat (1964–1989), and the author of seventy books and thousands of magazine articles and newspaper columns about the Air Force and air warfare. Mission to Tokyo is a follow-up to his previous book, Mission to Berlin.

Sith Lord November 30, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. Your friends, up there on the sanctuary moon, are walking into a trap, as is your Rebel fleet. It was I who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator. It is quite safe from your pitiful little band. An entire legion of my best troops awaits them. Oh, I'm afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive
Robert F. Dorr December 01, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Hi. I'm the author of "MISSION TO TOKYO" and want to thank friends and neighbors for their interest in my newest book. My contact information is very much open and available to anyone: (703) 264-8950, robert.f.dorr@cox.net. I have a presentation I can give if your group needs a speaker and of course I can provide copies of my books to anyone who might be interested. I have published a number of blog commentaries on Patch and hope to continue.
Bob Deis December 01, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Robert F. Dorr has written many great history books. I especially enjoyed his previous two, HELL HAWKS! and MISSION TO BERLIN. I didn't expect him to be able to top those, but he did. MISSION TO TOKYO is his best ever.
Dave Webster December 01, 2012 at 09:43 AM
I am glad this book addresses the necessity of using nuclear bombs against Japan. With the passage of time, it has become increasingly acceptable to criticize the United States for ending the war Japan brought upon itself in this manner. The cruel and inexplicable horrors inflicted by the Japanese upon American POWs, Chinese civilians, Korean women, and others too numerous to mention seem to have been forgotten by many who blame America first for taking necessary action to end the carnage. I will read your book Mr. Dorr.
R Parker December 01, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Mr. Dorr, I have two of your books, "Hell Hawks" and "Mission to Berlin". If "Mission to Tokyo" is anything like either of these two books, we are in for a real treat.
Steve James December 01, 2012 at 02:07 PM
After speaking several times with Mr. Dorr, I have no doubt that his love for, and dedication to, the topic of this book is second to none. This translates to a very accurate account of history in "Mission to Tokyo". As a member of the Air Force, I am proud to have someone like Mr. Dorr, a former airman himself, taking the time to educate myself and many others like me. "Mission to Tokyo" is the first of his books I have purchased. It will not be the last.
Elizabeth Burnside December 01, 2012 at 10:24 PM
I got my copy and enjoying the read! Nicely done!
Robert F. Dorr December 04, 2012 at 07:33 PM
The holiday answer for your history buff: "MISSION TO TOKYO" just received a Ralston Institute award for non-fiction. I'll be speaking about this World War II topic in the local area in December and January. I don't believe I know the author of this book review but I'm grateful for his kind words. If anyone is tumbling on that first sentence, the abbreviation ETO refers to the European Theater of Operations.
Erik Gilg December 05, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I recently finished Dorr's book and also finished watching the latest episode of Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States, which focused on Curtis LeMay's firebombing of Tokyo (expertly profiled in Dorr's book). I am glad to have read a trustworthy profile of this event!
Mike Berger December 06, 2012 at 09:03 PM
I've read Bob's books and find them quite fascinating. His "Mission to Berlin" was, to say the least, poignant, but it was a hell of a story. 'Mission to Tokyo' is right up there with the best.
Doug Carter December 07, 2012 at 01:08 PM
"Mission to Tokyo" is a page turner !!! What a wonderful gift for the holiday season Mr. Dorr's style of writing brings the people and events in his books to life.
R Parker December 07, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Dorr has a natural talent and brings aviation history to life like no other! His detailed description of events and environmental factors educates readers on the hardships that pilots endured during this era. “Mission to Tokyo” would be a great stocking stuffer for any avid reader.
Dave Webster December 07, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Since today is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, let's have a quote from "Mission to Tokyo" by a 1940 graduate of Herndon High School, Milburn P. Sanders, who would later rescue downed B-29 crewmembers: "On December 7, 1941, one brother took me with him to the country and we rode around the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in his 1932 Plymouth coupe, and then returned to Washington at the end of the day. Since his car did not have a radio, we were unaware of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We were surprised to find an Army command car, armed with a machine gun, guarding Key Bridge. Then we got the news."
Robert F. Dorr December 08, 2012 at 11:04 PM
History for the holidays: Thank you to everyone who supports my book "MISSION TO TOKYO," which one reader calls "'Band of Brothers' With Planes." Thanks in particular to Dave Webster, a local figure who is well worth watching. I can still provide a signed, first-edition copy of "MISSION TO TOKYO" for the holidays for anyone who'd like to contact me at (703) 264-8950.
Robert F. Dorr December 15, 2012 at 07:49 PM
For a gift for your history buff or your favorite client, "MISSION TO TOKYO" is an easy and readable account of American bomber crews in the war against Japan. I can still provide a signed, first-edition copy of "MISSION TO TOKYO" for the holidays for anyone who'd like to contact me at (703) 264-8950.
Ronald Morris December 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I have all signed copies of all three of Bob's WW2 books now! They are perfect additions to my library! As the son of a WW2 Army Air Corp veteran who was a crew chief on heavy bombers these books will never just gather dust. Any or all of these books would make a perfect Christmas Gift. My father passed away many years ago, but if anyone is blessed to have an Air Corp veteran still with them, please get them signed copies of these books!
Zachary Carter December 25, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Anyone interested in history, military or not, will love "Mission to Tokyo". I am going to buy more copies for friends with the money I received for Christmas.
Bob English January 13, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Mr. Dorr...I read a piece you wrote about 10 years ago on the blimb that was lost off of Maine. I was just wondering if there was any update to that story? Bob E.......Eatontown, NJ
Robert F. Dorr January 13, 2013 at 07:38 PM
'MISSION TO TOKYO" is a WW II history and copies are available here. In response to Bob English's question, I have written several articles about blimps during and after World War II but I do not remember one that was located near Maine. I'm doing more writing about World War II, but the subject of blimps hasn't been on my desk for many years. Thank you for asking.

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