Cover image for Duty : a father, his son, and the man who won the war
Title:
Duty : a father, his son, and the man who won the war
Author:
Greene, Bob.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
295 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.4 15.0 49643.
ISBN:
9780380978496
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

When Bob Greene went home to central Ohio to be with his dying father, it set off a chain of events that led him to knowing his dad in a way he never had before--thanks to a quiet man who lived just a few miles away, a man who had changed the history of the world.

Greene's father--a soldier with an infantry division in World War II--often spoke of seeing the man around town. All but anonymous even in his own city, carefully maintaining his privacy, this man, Greene's father would point out to him, had "won the war." He was Paul Tibbets. At the age of twenty-nine, at the request of his country, Tibbets assembled a secret team of 1,800 American soldiers to carry out the single most violent act in the history of mankind. In 1945 Tibbets piloted a plane--which he called Enola Gay, after his mother--to the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where he dropped the atomic bomb.

On the morning after the last meal he ever ate with his father, Greene went to meet Tibbets. What developed was an unlikely friendship that allowed Greene to discover things about his father, and his father's generation of soldiers, that he never fully understood before.


DUTY

is the story of three lives connected by history, proximity, and blood; indeed, it is many stories, intimate and achingly personal as well as deeply historic. In one soldier's memory of a mission that transformed the world--and in a son's last attempt to grasp his father's ingrained sense of honor and duty--lies a powerful tribute to the ordinary heroes of an extraordinary time in American life.

What Greene came away with is found history and found poetry--a profoundly moving work that offers a vividly new perspective on responsibility, empathy, and love. It is an exploration of and response to the concept of duty as it once was and always should be: quiet and from the heart. On every page you can hear the whisper of a generation and its children bidding each other farewell.

Duty is the story of three lives connected by history, proximity, and blood; indeed, it is many stories, intimate and achingly personal as well as deeply historic. In one soldier's memory of a mission that transformed the world-and in a son's last attempt to grasp his father's ingrained sense of honor and duty-lies a powerful tribute to the ordinary heroes of an extraordinary time in American life.

What Greene came away with is found history and found poetry--a profoundly moving work that otters a vividly new perspective on responsibility, empathy, and love. It is an exploration of and response to the concept of duty as it once was and always should be: quiet and from the heart. On every page you can hear the whisper of a generation and its children bidding each other farewell.

Duty is the story of three lives connected by history, proximity, and blood; indeed, it is many stories, intimate and achingly personal as well as deeply historic. In one soldier's memory of a mission that transformed the world-and in a son's last attempt to grasp his father's ingrained sense of honor and duty-lies a powerful tribute to the ordinary heroes of an extraordinary time in American life.

What Greene came away with is found history and found poetry--a profoundly moving work that otters a vividly new perspective on responsibility, empathy, and love. It is an exploration of and response to the concept of duty as it once was and always should be: quiet and from the heart. On every page you can hear the whisper of a generation and its children bidding each other farewell.


Author Notes

Bob Greene is a syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His book topics have included politics, basketball, and rock and roll; he toured with Alice Cooper to get the background for Billion Dollar Baby (1974).

His books are often a collection of his newspaper columns, covering a wide range of topics with interesting portraits of both everyday people and celebrities, but sometimes focus on his own reactions to life's changes. The rediscovery of his old high school diary resulted in Be True to Your School: A Diary of 1964 (1987). Turning age 50 led to his The Fifty Year Dash: The Feelings, Foibles, and Fears of Being Half-a-Century Old (1997).

Greene was born in 1947 and lives in Illinois with his wife, Susan, and their daughter Amanda, who provided the inspiration for his book Good Morning, Merry Sunshine: A Father's Journal of His Child's First Year (1984).

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

As his father's death approached, Chicago Tribune syndicated columnist Greene was forced to come to terms with their distant relationship. He found in another man, Paul Tibbets, the pilot who flew the atomic bomb to Hiroshima, someone who could help him understand his father's generation. Tibbets lived in obscurity in Greene's hometown, Columbus, Ohio. After 20 years of attempts to interview him, Greene got to meet Tibbets informally. That led to friendship and a chance to understand the reticence and the responsibility of Tibbets' and his father's generation. To Greene, his father seemed to be the archetypal man in the gray-flannel suit, a no-nonsense corporate worker who kept his nose to the grindstone, never complaining but never connecting either. Tibbets, like Greene's father, was a reticent man. But the fact that Greene was working a legitimate news and historical angle and that he and Tibbets weren't related helped ease communication between them. Tibbets' astonishing mission and unswerving responsibility in carrying it out symbolized for Greene the sense of duty of his father's generation. That sense of duty is also evident in the ruminations of Greene's father, excerpted from the taped oral history he left for his children, which are interspersed throughout Greene's narrative. Through his father's death and his friendship with Tibbets, Greene writes, he "realized anew that so many of us only now, only at the very end, are beginning to truly know our fathers and mothers." A touching look at parent-child relationships and the psychological distance that can grow between generations. Vanessa Bush


Publisher's Weekly Review

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 heroÄan 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 skillsÄ 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 personaÄas well as his nostalgia for traditional valuesÄwears thin. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

A best-selling author and syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Greene recounts an unlikely chain of events that led from his father's death to friendship with his father's neighbor, the pilot of the famed Enola Gay. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Duty A Father, His Son, And The Man Who Won T Chapter One The morning after the last meal I ever ate with my father, I finally met the man who won the war. It was from my father that I had first heard about the man. The event--the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima--I of course knew about; like all children of the post-World War II generation, my classmates and I had learned about it in elementary school. But the fact that the man who dropped the bomb--the pilot who flew the Enola Gay to Japan, who carried out the single most violent act in the history of mankind and thus brought World War II to an end--the fact that he lived quietly in the same town where I had grown up . . . that piece of knowledge came from my father. It was never stated in an especially dramatic way. My dad would come home from work--from downtown Columbus, in central Ohio--and say: "I was buying some shirts today, and Paul Tibbets was in the next aisle, buying ties." They never met; my father never said a word to him. I sensed that my father might have been a little reluctant, maybe even a touch embarrassed; he had been a soldier with an infantry division, Tibbets had been a combat pilot, all these years had passed since the war and now here they both were, two all-but-anonymous businessmen in a sedate, landlocked town in a country at peace . . . what was my dad supposed to say? How was he supposed to begin the conversation? Yet there was always a certain sound in his voice at the dinner table. "Paul Tibbets was in the next aisle buying ties . . . . " The sound in my dad's voice told me--as if I needed reminding--that the story of his life had reached its most indelible and meaningful moments in the years of the war, the years before I was born. Those dinner-table conversations were long ago, though; they were in the years when my dad was still vital, in good health, in the prime of his adult years, not yet ready to leave the world. I had all but forgotten the conversations--at least the specifics of them, other than the occasional mentions of Tibbets. Now my dad was dying. We had dinner in his bedroom--he would not, it would turn out, again be able to sit in a chair and eat after this night--and the next morning I told him that I had somewhere to go and that I would be back in a few hours, and I went to find Paul Tibbets. Something told me that it was important. Duty A Father, His Son, And The Man Who Won T . Copyright © by Bob Greene. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War by Bob Greene All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.