I would imagine that one of the biggest thrills of writing a book about an old subject is turning up fresh info that you had to dig out from some dark, musty place.
That’s what Charlotte native James Scott has done in his new book, “Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid that Avenged Pearl Harbor” (Norton, $35).
The Doolittle Raid, April 18, 1942, has long fascinated Scott. He emailed me from Charleston, where he lives, that it’s one of the greatest stories of World War II.
“At its heart, it is a story of a nation, knocked down after the attack on Pearl Harbor and in its darkest hour, searching for a way to strike back. The raid was not just a military mission, but rather a way to reassure the American public that we would ultimately pull through and win. As a result, the stakes were incredibly high.”
Scott, who is the son of Sue and John Scott of Charlotte, grew up here, went to Eastover Elementary, A.G. Junior High and Charlotte Country Day School. He graduated from Wofford in 1997 and worked as a reporter for The Herald in Rock Hill, then moved to Charleston in 2001 to work with the Post and Courier.
He was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard in 2006. While there, he started working on his first book, “The Attack on the Liberty,” about an attack on his dad’s ship. He followed that book with “The War Below,” about the submarine war in the Pacific.
“Target Tokyo” is the first book on the subject to tap Japanese records, says Scott, which reveal precisely what the raiders ht in Tokyo, including the unintentional deaths of some children.
Scott also managed to uncover new records -- old missionary files he found in the archives of DePaul University -- that detail Japan’s ruthless retaliation aginst the Chinese in the wake of the attack, which killed an estimated 250,000 men, woman and children.
The Christian Science Monitor named “Target Tokyo” one of the Ten Best Books of April.
Scott will read from his new book and answer questions from 2-4 p.m., Sunday, April 26, at Park Road Book, 4139 Park Road., Charlotte, 28209. The event is free and open to the public.