MixedThe Wall Street JournalOddly, Mr. McKean never mentions that Dodd’s daughter not only shared his disgust but also spied for the Soviet Union, falling in love with a Russian agent and feeding him information about her father’s activities and his correspondence with Roosevelt ... Mr. McKean tells his story easily and well, keeping the chapters brief and sprinkling them with telling quotes ... Mr. McKean also has a sharp eye for detail beyond diplomacy ... On the downside, Mr. McKean’s understanding of Adolf Hitler is a bit simplistic...Hitler’s grand strategy was always more consistent than Mr. McKean seems willing to credit.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... superb ... One suspects that Mr. Paradis gives the Japanese officer a bit more credit for compassion than he deserves, but that does nothing to soften the impact of the three executions that follow ... Mr. Paradis writes history with ease and authority. He covers the raid itself, and the airmen’s fate, briskly and then turns to the story that interests him most of all: the challenge of bringing justice to Warden Tatsuta and the other Japanese officers responsible for executing the three airmen and torturing, starving and otherwise mistreating their comrades. Remarkably, the legal maneuvering turns out to be as riveting as the raid itself ... Mr. Paradis relates the courtroom jousting with a novelist’s skill ... Mr. Paradis’s storytelling is superb, and his research is impeccable. He is one of very few Americans writing about the Pacific War who have actually delved into Japanese-language sources; he even renders their titles in kanji characters and syllabic script. I do wish, however, that he was a bit more careful about the way words were used in the 1940s. I cringed whenever he innocently belittles the airmen. They were heroes—they were Doolittle Raiders! They weren’t \'flyboys.\'
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe story of targeting Yamamoto has been told before, of course. What freshens Mr. Lehr’s account is his inspired idea to balance the Japanese admiral with the much younger Capt. John Mitchell ... Many readers will know how the intercept turns out (for the uninitiated, the book’s title, Dead Reckoning, is a giveaway), but Mr. Lehr’s telling of it has the excitement of a Steve McQueen car chase ... why pick up Mr. Lehr’s version? Because he tells the story so very well.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... delightful and informative ... a great story, and Mr. Rose tells it well ... To personify the airplane, Mr. Rose gives us Juan Trippe, a Yale graduate with wealthy friends and a love of flying, which he eventually parlayed into a world-girdling airline—Pan Am. The author does his best to tie them together, at the cost of diluting the more interesting and ultimately tragic story of how the Zeppelin once seemed an unstoppable force, both for destroying the enemy in time of war and for tying the world together in peace.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalPrison breaks have an eternal fascination, especially if they involve Allied servicemen escaping from a German camp. Now, to rival Steve McQueen landing in barbed wire as he tries to flee the Nazis in The Great Escape, Neal Bascomb brings us the true story of a more successful breakout, this one from World War I ... The story is slow to unfold: Mr. Bascomb, the author of several other works of popular history, introduces us to Holzminden on page 95 and to the tunnel on page 135—but with the tunnel the pace and interest pick up.