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Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War Paperback – April 24, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 heroAan 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 skillsA 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 personaAas well as his nostalgia for traditional valuesAwears thin.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

According to Greene (Be True to Your School), the man who won World War II was Col. Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay--the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945. Greene, a syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune, has created a powerful and poignant tale of his personal relationship with Tibbets from their first meeting in 1998. With the skill and sensitivity of an accomplished journalist, Greene tells of Tibbets's involvement with the planning, training for, and execution of that fateful flight to commit the most violent act in history. More importantly, Greene relates how Tibbets and the surviving members of the aircrew have adjusted to their unwanted notoriety in peacetime. In addition, this book is a heart-wrenching story of Greene's relationship with his dying father, also a World War II veteran. Through Tibbets (who lived near Greene's father), Greene finally comes to understand how his father and the World War II generation came to embrace the true meanings of patriotism, courage, and duty. Strongly recommended for all public libraries.
---William D. Bushnell, formerly with USMC, Sebascodegan Island, ME
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380814110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380814114
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

It is great that Tibbets contributed to the writing of this book.
"lcpl_ticehurst_usmc"
Unfortunately it also seems that he and his father never really talked at all, so he had to go to a stranger to find out what his father was like.
"ed47"
This is a great interwoven story of two WW II men: Mr. Greene's father and Paul W. Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, and of son Bob Greene, himself.
C. Andersen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Lee K. Shuster on June 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
With Father's Day just around the corner I wanted to share a review of "DUTY," one of the best books I've ever read. (I've read nearly all the books in Sallyann's B-29 Reading Room and (hope she can add this excellent title, soon!)
My 22-year old son gave me this book last week for my birthday and I've already sent it onto my Father who served as a Superfort CFC gunner with the 73rd Bomb Wing's 499th.
Greene's book crosses generations and gender gaps -- it is a unique and special historical, yet very personal, look into the lives of the generation we own so much to. The author explores his relationship with his dying father (a WWII Army infantry veteran who fought in Italy). A native of Columbus, Ohio, Bob tries for over twenty years to interview retired General Paul Tibbets, Commander of the Enola Gay. On the morning after the last meal he ever shared with his father, Tibbets agrees to meet with Greene. What unfolds is a simply fascinating and genuine friendship that allowed author Greene to discover things about his father, and his father's generation of WWII soldiers, that he never fully understood before.
I especially enjoyed the chapter where Greene is invited by Tibbets to spend a few days at a Branson, Missouri, reunion of (then) surviving Enola Gay crew members: (the late) Tom Ferebee, Dutch Van Kirk, and Paul Tibbets. Greene is an extraordinary journalist, he brings you into the group and shares it all with a special sensitivity, understand and love.
Please...... beg borrow or otherwise obtain a copy of this book, today -- it's a must read, regardless of your generation, gender, or previously formed opinions on the "single most violent act in the history of mankind."
Lee K. Shuster,
Vietnam-era USAF Vet and Son of a (CFC) Gunner
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109 of 116 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on May 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
That one comment has been a common thread through all of the books I have read regarding the men and women involved in World War II. The General was chastising the Author for suggesting that his Father was less important as a Major in the war than General Tibbets. This was not the first lesson that would be taught, and I thought it was great the Author included so many instances when the General took him to task. It was always instructive and formed a series of reference points for the Author that taught him more than he ever expected to learn about his own Father.
The Enola Gay, her crew, and the bomb she dropped remain for some/many an issue left unresolved. Fifty years allows for a great deal of second-guessing and revisionist history. If after reading this book the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima is still questionable to you, read "Flags Of Our Fathers". If after you absorb the lives that Iwo Jima, a tiny island consumed I do not believe there is a credible argument that the dropping of the first Atom Bomb was anything other than correct. Not conditionally correct, but absolutely correct for the United States and Japan.
There is a conversation in the book between General Tibbets and Shoji Tabuchi. Mr. Tabuchi was carried by his Mother on her back, while she pushed his Brother in a carriage away from their home that was near Hiroshima after the bombing. Mr. Tabuchi's Father said this about the Bombing, "had the war continued all would have died, the end of the war spared the lives of men women and children all over Japan".
Why is it The Smithsonian Air And Space Museum had so much trouble a few years ago when presenting what had happened during World War II.
Read more ›
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Chriss on May 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Bob Greene's moving book is rewarding at two levels.
Hereveals new first-person details of Col. Paul Tibbets and hisHiroshima atomic-bombing mission that convinced the Japanese to finally end the terrible war. He draws out the thoughts and actions of young Tibbets and his men as they planned and carried out their gigantic responsibility.
More profoundly, through conversations with Tibbets today and revealing introspection about his own father's Army service in Italy, Greene uncovers the intricate cultural connections binding the wartime generation and today's America. Asking few questions, making no demands they did their duty, putting their lives on hold and on the line to win the war and secure the peaceful, prosperous post-war nation. Today's generation hardly recognizes these warriors but owes everything to them.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By "lcpl_ticehurst_usmc" on May 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I just recently purchased this book, and I am happy I did. As a Lance Corporal in the US Marines I am always interested in reading military type books, but this was much more than that. It is a story about the relationship the father and son had. It also focuses on the victory in a war in which so many lost their lives. It is great that Tibbets contributed to the writing of this book. Who better to hear it from. Also, Bob Greene is a gifted writer, whether writing a novel or column. This book will be special to almost anyone who reads it, you don't have to be interested in the military to enjoy it. Robert_Ticehurst@Scudder.com
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ray L. Walker on May 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Duty, A Father, His Son and the Man Who Won the War,by Bob Greene, syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune, is a requiem for the generation that fought World War II. I recommend it to all who served or who still honor the sacrifices made in the name of Honor,Duty & Country. It is a emotionally gripping story that will hold your attention from beginning to end. Greene is at the height of his story telling ability with this one.
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