Flags of Our Fathers Info

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The
perfect gift for Father’s Day, this is the true story behind
the immortal photograph that has come to symbolize the courage and
indomitable will of America

In February 1945, American
Marines plunged into the surf at Iwo Jima—and into history.
Through a hail of machine-gun and mortar fire that left the beaches
strewn with comrades, they battled to the island’s highest peak.
And after climbing through a landscape of hell itself, they raised a
flag.
Now the son of one of the flagraisers has written a
powerful account of six very different young men who came together in a
moment that will live forever.
To his family, John Bradley never
spoke of the photograph or the war. But after his death at age seventy,
his family discovered closed boxes of letters and photos. In Flags of
Our Fathers
, James Bradley draws on those documents to retrace the
lives of his father and the men of Easy Company. Following these
men’s paths to Iwo Jima, James Bradley has written a classic story
of the heroic battle for the Pacific’s most crucial
island—an island riddled with Japanese tunnels and 22,000 fanatic
defenders who would fight to the last man.
But perhaps the most
interesting part of the story is what happened after the victory. The
men in the photo—three were killed during the battle—were
proclaimed heroes and flown home, to become reluctant symbols. For two
of them, the adulation was shattering. Only James Bradley’s father
truly survived, displaying no copy of the famous photograph in his
home, telling his son only: “The real heroes of Iwo Jima were the
guys who didn’t come back.”
Few books ever have
captured the complexity and furor of war and its aftermath as well as
Flags of Our Fathers. A penetrating, epic look at a generation at
war, this is history told with keen insight, enormous honesty, and the
passion of a son paying homage to his father. It is the story of the
difference between truth and myth, the meaning of being a hero, and the
essence of the human experience of war.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Flags of Our Fathers:

2

Mar 09, 2008

I read the book before the movie. The movie, directed by Clint Eastwood is almost entirely dedicated to the book's last chapters where the author describes the after-war lives of the heroes - and yes, despite what Bradley and Eastwood believe, these men ARE heroes regardless of the father Bradley's protests.

After describing the battle and events of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi, the author describes how the men's lives turned sour as the US War Machine exploited them for the 7th War Bond I read the book before the movie. The movie, directed by Clint Eastwood is almost entirely dedicated to the book's last chapters where the author describes the after-war lives of the heroes - and yes, despite what Bradley and Eastwood believe, these men ARE heroes regardless of the father Bradley's protests.

After describing the battle and events of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi, the author describes how the men's lives turned sour as the US War Machine exploited them for the 7th War Bond Drive - and then abandoned them. That's one way of looking at it, I guess; but personally, I would rather read stories that inspire me, educate me, and lift my spirit. After all, this is why we read, isn't it? This book had potential to be great and could have earned 5 stars had it not taken the cynical twist that it did after the flag raising.

The last pages of the book somewhat angered me that the author would think so little of the men's well deserved recognition. They weren't heroes because they "happened to be at the right place, at the right time for an opportune photo" that subsequently became the symbol of America's sacrifice for freedom. They were heroes for setting foot on the island. Period. This is more than I can say for myself and it takes great fortitude to overcome a man's fears to face death, yet step onto that beach anyway.

Bradley and Eastwood just don't get it. The photo honors ALL the fallen veterans and honors ALL the parents who gave their sons during WWII. Family's back home suffered great anxiety, sorrow, and fear for their sons and this memorial is for them too - for their sacrifices. God bless the heroes who died in the waters at Iwo Jima's beaches, the heroes who gave all on the putrid island, the heroes who fought and died or survived in every engagement of this war, and God bless the HEROES who raised the flags on Mount Suribachi. God will reward them even if Bradley and Eastwood won't. ...more
4

Jan 18, 2011

On Veteran's Day and other such days when the mind wanders over the ultimate sacrifice made by brave men and women during our world's troubled times, for Americans there are few images more iconic than the picture of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during WWII.

Flags of Our Fathers was penned by James Bradley, the son of one of the men in that picture. This story is about that experience, what led up to it and what came after. It is more engaging and less depressing than expected. Certainly it is On Veteran's Day and other such days when the mind wanders over the ultimate sacrifice made by brave men and women during our world's troubled times, for Americans there are few images more iconic than the picture of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during WWII.

Flags of Our Fathers was penned by James Bradley, the son of one of the men in that picture. This story is about that experience, what led up to it and what came after. It is more engaging and less depressing than expected. Certainly it is not all flag-waving victory for one and all involved. Bitter sorrow surrounded some of the participants. However, on the whole, that moment in time stands for hard fought victory. Today is a day to honor the idea behind the image, this metaphor for comradeship. Whenever you might read it, Bradley's book makes the reader feel as if everyday is Veteran's Day.

...more
4

Jan 10, 2008

Flags of Our Fathers tells the amazing true story of Iwo Jima and The Photograph, by creating a fairly complete picture of the six boys/men in the photo. It recounts basic ideas of their childhoods and their training as Marines, the battle itself, and the lives of those who survived (including Bradley's father) after the war.

These men, who wanted nothing else but to be left alone, were thrust into the spotlight because of a lucky picture at a not-so-heroic moment in time. The picture became a Flags of Our Fathers tells the amazing true story of Iwo Jima and The Photograph, by creating a fairly complete picture of the six boys/men in the photo. It recounts basic ideas of their childhoods and their training as Marines, the battle itself, and the lives of those who survived (including Bradley's father) after the war.

These men, who wanted nothing else but to be left alone, were thrust into the spotlight because of a lucky picture at a not-so-heroic moment in time. The picture became a sensation, the most reproduced photo, and the boys became heroes. They were very much heroes, not because of the flagraising, but for having done the same thing every other soldier had done on Sulfur Island--risking their lives for their country and their friends.

My basic assessment of the book is "Content: excellent. Execution: mediocre."

The middle of the book, which gives the details of the actual battle, was very compelling; I didn't want to put it down. However, the beginning and the end seemed redundant.

The problems with the book do not come from the unbelievable story or its scope, but they come in the structure. In the beginning, I was very frustrated by the sentence fluency, but after talking to a friend about the book (and reading further) I realized it was the organization that was lacking.

Bradley repeats the same ideas over and over. Really, the book could have been a lot shorter--a couple hundred pages shorter (my version was the short, fat one). I do wonder if the YA version would be less redundant without losing the great details. Also, he obviously has a bit of a bias, but it's to be expected, and I don't think it gets too in the way of the important details.

But through all of this, I am very glad that I read it. The information surprised/shocked me a little, but I don't know much about the Japan side of WWII. It's always good to be reminded of the horrors of war and to empathize with those who have been, who are going, and who have sent their loved ones. The story made me surprisingly more emotional than I would have thought. ...more
1

Aug 03, 2014

Full disclosure - I wasn't able to finish this book, so if you're one of those people who says you can't judge it til you finish, you don't need to read this. I, however, don't need to get to the end to know I just hated this book, and am writing a review to warn others and remind myself why I didn't finish it. I read a good amount of history stuff in this vein. Not a huge amount, but a lot more than the average American I think, and this is the only one I have come across so far that felt Full disclosure - I wasn't able to finish this book, so if you're one of those people who says you can't judge it til you finish, you don't need to read this. I, however, don't need to get to the end to know I just hated this book, and am writing a review to warn others and remind myself why I didn't finish it. I read a good amount of history stuff in this vein. Not a huge amount, but a lot more than the average American I think, and this is the only one I have come across so far that felt exploitative. After the first few chapters I started to feel like Bradley was trying to make a living off of his father's life. I tried to push through, give him the benefit of the doubt, but I got about half way through and the impression just deepened. That's when I checked the reviews on Goodreads and realized a lot of other people had the same impression. There was just too much of Bradley in it. It's not really their story, it's his, about his "epic" journey to publicize their lives. I can't really point to anything specific in the text, its just the overall impression I get.

The other thing that bothers me is that some of the details he shares from these men's lives are very personal. There's even a few where he talks about how it was a secret that they kept, they never wanted anyone to know, and yet here he is, publishing it for the world to see, making money off it. And a lot of them weren't relevant to the story either, it was just dramatic fodder. And yet, despite the fact that Bradley seems to have made a career out of this picture, he constantly downplays the importance of the moment, saying that they were just in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time. That's alright for his father to say, because its his experiences, his life. But you can't go around saying someone else's bravery was just luck. Sure, it was a lot of chance that put them in the actual picture, but the story isn't just the picture. And even if it was, they stand for all the soldiers, all the courage shown and sacrifices made. Bradley makes it sound like he doesn't think they should really be celebrated, because they just happened to be there. He misses the entire point.

As if all that wasn't bad enough, it's badly written, as in literally, the prose is bad. It rambles, its repetitive, it basically reads like a diary entry or a spoken story that hasn't been edited at all. A lot of it sounds kind of like Eat, Pray, Love, where the author is deeply meditating on something internal. Self-serving crap if you ask me, but I tend to be very literal, so if you find meaning in stuff like that, you may enjoy his writing style.

Basically, it was a badly written attempt to make money off someone else's pain. ...more
5

Nov 22, 2008

Like most people, I had no idea what the real context was for the famous photograph of soldiers raising the US flag at Iwo Jima. Nor did I understand the military significance of that campaign, or the cost in lives it required (over 8000 US soldiers killed and almost 20,000 wounded; and over 20,000 Japanese killed). This book is presented as the story of the 6 men who appear in the photo. The first section gives their backgrounds and life stories, and dragged a bit, but made the rest much more Like most people, I had no idea what the real context was for the famous photograph of soldiers raising the US flag at Iwo Jima. Nor did I understand the military significance of that campaign, or the cost in lives it required (over 8000 US soldiers killed and almost 20,000 wounded; and over 20,000 Japanese killed). This book is presented as the story of the 6 men who appear in the photo. The first section gives their backgrounds and life stories, and dragged a bit, but made the rest much more personal (these were REAL PEOPLE involved in this struggle). The last part discusses the aftermath, particularly the struggle to cope emotionally with something as horrific as this kind of battle. But it's the middle section that grabs your heart. I've never seen such a vivid portrayal of combat, written in a way that portrayed the terror, the strategizing, the campaigns, and especially the incredible bravery and self-sacrifice. You come away with a deep appreciation for the discipline and loyalty of the Marine Corps; for the desperation but willing sacrifice of the Japanese defenders; and for those Americans who were "common men doing uncommon things" - truly heroes, in the purest sense of the word. I was lucky to read this book on planes to and from Florida, just in time for Memorial Day. ...more
4

Aug 02, 2007

I don't often read historical nonfiction, but this book was superb; I was very moved by the countless acts of sacrifice made by the men who fought at Iwo Jima.

This is a riveting narrative about the six young American flag raisers in the famed picture. Author James Bradley is the son of corpsman John Bradley (one of the men in the photo) and it was only after his father's death when he began to piece together culminating events, as his father never talked about the war but for: "The heroes of Iwo I don't often read historical nonfiction, but this book was superb; I was very moved by the countless acts of sacrifice made by the men who fought at Iwo Jima.

This is a riveting narrative about the six young American flag raisers in the famed picture. Author James Bradley is the son of corpsman John Bradley (one of the men in the photo) and it was only after his father's death when he began to piece together culminating events, as his father never talked about the war but for: "The heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn't come back." The book includes background on each man, subsequently proceeding to their enlistment, training, fighting, and of course the photograph. Only three of the six flag-raisers survived the battle.

Highly recommended. (And don't see the movie, it stinks.)




...more
3

Jul 26, 2008

This was a good book, the intent of the author was good, but I didn't like so many personal comments from him. I don't care that he stared at the picture that this book is based around for hours at a time in a daze, or any other comments he made like that. I think that the fact that he added those into the book took away from honoring those he was writing about. It seemed selfish and cocky of him. His personal comments seemed more like a tribute to himself and his intellect than to those who This was a good book, the intent of the author was good, but I didn't like so many personal comments from him. I don't care that he stared at the picture that this book is based around for hours at a time in a daze, or any other comments he made like that. I think that the fact that he added those into the book took away from honoring those he was writing about. It seemed selfish and cocky of him. His personal comments seemed more like a tribute to himself and his intellect than to those who fought in battle. Otherwise this book was good, the facts are solid and you are very anxious to find out more and more as the book goes on. I hope this doesn't sound too harsh, but this is how I feel about the book. ...more
5

Jan 29, 2009

5Q 2P A/YA

James Bradley's book is a masterpiece of historical writing that will not wear down readers with heavy language or intimidate with hundreds of pages. This is a biography written about the five men who raised the United States flag on Mount Suribachi on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during the second World War. Bradley's father along with two other men Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon survived the attack on the island and were sent home on orders from the United States government after a 5Q 2P A/YA

James Bradley's book is a masterpiece of historical writing that will not wear down readers with heavy language or intimidate with hundreds of pages. This is a biography written about the five men who raised the United States flag on Mount Suribachi on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during the second World War. Bradley's father along with two other men Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon survived the attack on the island and were sent home on orders from the United States government after a photograph of the scene had been sent home. The unforgettable picture became a national phenomena and would forever change the lives of the three surviving soldiers.

This book is a fascinating read as the author recreates the oral stories of these men from either direct conversation or other sources related to them. It will please any young reader who has interest in World War II or an American history enthusiast. The battle scenes described in this book allows the reader to become emotionally invested in the lives of these heroic men. The author holds nothing back when it comes to describing the horrors of pain and death in the battlefields.

Perhaps more impressive and unique is the author's ability to describe the home lives of the three men as they come back from fighting. Each man carries the burden of his trials in their own way. Again the author does not sugarcoat any of the domestic struggles these men went through. These honest accounts makes the reader reflect upon the misconceptions of glamourizing war, decorated home lives, and the invincible image of heroes. While not taking away from their courage and heroics on the battlefield, the author keeps these men humbled and human by not hiding anything. For example, one man Ira Hayes must deal with the fact that he is a Native American living in a white man's world. Without his uniform, he is nothing but another Indian drunk in the eyes of the public.

This book would not appeal to most young adult readers because of the content inside. Those looking for a John Wayne war story will want to look elsewhere. The imagery is very intense and graphic. The description of the domestic struggles of the three men is also not a pretty picture either, which might turn off some readers looking for a feel good story. Readers interested in the subject will definitely get into this title with no problem, but other than that it would likely take a lot of convincing to find other young adults to pick this one up. ...more
1

Jul 22, 2011

Unreadable:

Book begins with the author detailing a trip Iwo Jima with family member where he took great delight in being photographed peeing off the side of the mountain monument dedicated to the battle that took place there. That is right this man by special permission was invited to the Japanese island of Iwo Jima and onto the Japanese military base and stood on a monument dedicated to the thousands of men who fought and died there and decided it would be awesome if he peed on all of it. I Unreadable:

Book begins with the author detailing a trip Iwo Jima with family member where he took great delight in being photographed peeing off the side of the mountain monument dedicated to the battle that took place there. That is right this man by special permission was invited to the Japanese island of Iwo Jima and onto the Japanese military base and stood on a monument dedicated to the thousands of men who fought and died there and decided it would be awesome if he peed on all of it. I don't care if the men who fought there did that in some kind bolstering attempt to deal with what they had and would yet experience, that land is now sacred (as the author alludes to in the title of the chapter "Sacred Ground") and you just don't do that. Imagine if we reversed the situation and the son of one of the pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor was invited to the memorial site and decided to be photographed peeing of one of the monuments or into the water above the Arizona. And this is what the author wants you to know of himself. Classless, disgusting, and entirely without honor.

Sadly the book doesn't get better from there. It is full of repetitions, contradictions, cliches, and outright falsehoods (which are then, of course, repeated). The author continually switches from third person to first person (even inside the same paragraphs) and past tense to present tense. To give us a sense of the boys he is writing about he spoke with and quotes wives, mothers, brothers, and former fiancés (everyone of them named) of all the boys but one (needless to say every single one of these boys were saints and angels and rang entirely false). The one boy left out, Rene, was for some reason hated by the author who could barely bring himself to write anything at all about the boy and when he did detailed the varied flaws backed up by general quotes from unnamed "friends."

Moreover, the continual claims that the US contributed nothing to winning the war in Europe (entirely done by Russia it seems--something that would no doubt surprise my grandfather who landed on Utah Beach at Normandy) and no other country contributed to the US winning the "American War" in the Pacific added to the author's never-ending claims that the Marines single handedly won this "American War" while everyone else just were just bumbling idiots who cost the Marines their lives was beyond annoying and moved back into the realm of disgusting.

And my goodness, do a little research, man. The author briefly wonders why Ira (the Native American of the group) started drinking before the war. Let's see, I wonder if just maybe there is a little research out there about Native Americans and alcohol. It is too bad that the author couldn't muster up his oft-written abilities of staring into the famous picture to learn everything he needed to know about the men that raised that flag or hear their voices guiding him on his path of research. Maybe he could/should have asked Ira himself why he started drinking. (And while we are on the topic of Ira, there is not a trace of racism mentioned in the entire first half of the book. I don't buy that for a minute.) He did, however, seem to have been able to use this little "research" tool in discovering what the boys were thinking about things they "never discussed with a single living soul."

Can you tell yet that I was thoroughly disgusted by this book? It was poorly researched and poorly written--I imagine this has something to do with the difficulty Bradley faced in getting it published and why no historians (military or otherwise) were jumping up and down to offer reviews or forwards for the work.

**I only read the first half ...more
5

Jan 03, 2012

Courage

A noble virtue that has sometimes been bastardized.

By people who engage in reckless abandon.

By jerks who just long for publicity.

By showbiz scum who wash their dirty linen in public.(The latest local one with the initials "K.A.")

But there was a time when REAL courage meant facing bullets, bombs, and staring death in the face, not for personal glory or just for the kick of it, but for freedom, liberty, and justice. And saving other people's lives.

The Allied men and women (Filipinos Courage

A noble virtue that has sometimes been bastardized.

By people who engage in reckless abandon.

By jerks who just long for publicity.

By showbiz scum who wash their dirty linen in public.(The latest local one with the initials "K.A.")

But there was a time when REAL courage meant facing bullets, bombs, and staring death in the face, not for personal glory or just for the kick of it, but for freedom, liberty, and justice. And saving other people's lives.

The Allied men and women (Filipinos included) who served and fought in the Second World War were raised in the Great Depression and rose up against it. They then left-or were forced to leave-their peaceful lives to fight and defeat fascism and militarism. And many were killed and wounded in that terrible conflict. But not in vain.

In this start of the Holy Week, may we be reminded of the true meaning of courage. Like Jesus, who entered Jerusalem knowing that he would meet his death-and Resurrection- in a week's time. Like the Allied men and women of the Second World War. To face evil and confront it, despite the odds.

In memoriam.

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4

Mar 06, 2014

I enjoyed this book. It was a non-fiction book of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. It wasn't a regurgitation of his research, but a thoughtful expression of the facts as they were compiled. The author's father was one of the men who were there that day and helped raise the flag. His father survived what was described as a month long massacre.

I found this book thought provoking. On one hand, this iconic picture was a beacon of hope to the American people, who sent there sons, brothers and fathers I enjoyed this book. It was a non-fiction book of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. It wasn't a regurgitation of his research, but a thoughtful expression of the facts as they were compiled. The author's father was one of the men who were there that day and helped raise the flag. His father survived what was described as a month long massacre.

I found this book thought provoking. On one hand, this iconic picture was a beacon of hope to the American people, who sent there sons, brothers and fathers off to war. Who made sacrifices and continued to do so with rations, women in the work force and the purchasing of war bonds. But those who actually survived this particular 'skirmish' (only about 20 percent survived) had a hard time recovering from the things they witnessed and didn't like the term "hero" applied to them just because they were the few who lived to walk off that island. In their minds, the heroes were the fallen soldiers. Maybe a better word would have been 'survivor'. I don't know. But it offered food for thought. ...more
5

Jan 16, 2013

WOW! And I don't even like non-fiction!

This story chronicles first the lives of the six men raising their flag on Iwo Jima, the American climate during war time and why they enlisted. Readers are then taken inch by pain staking inch up the beach of "fire island" through gun fire, death, fear, hunger, sleep deprivation and more. Slowly trodding up the hill where we experience a seemingly unremarkable flag replacement that became a photograph which to this day "iconicizes" the valor, WOW! And I don't even like non-fiction!

This story chronicles first the lives of the six men raising their flag on Iwo Jima, the American climate during war time and why they enlisted. Readers are then taken inch by pain staking inch up the beach of "fire island" through gun fire, death, fear, hunger, sleep deprivation and more. Slowly trodding up the hill where we experience a seemingly unremarkable flag replacement that became a photograph which to this day "iconicizes" the valor, determination, courage and strength that is a US Marine. Finally we follow the only two (of six) surviving men through the aftermath. This story is told by the son of one of the "heroes". He never knew his father was in that picture; he never spoke of it with him. After his death his sons found his Navy Cross and a box full of letters that led one son on a remarkable journey; chronicled here for us to experience alongside of him.

A truly life changing story. ...more
5

May 14, 2019

This book was impactful. It illustrates the price paid by my grandfather's generation for this country we live in. But there's even more to it than that. I don't really know how to put it into words but I'm glad I read it and feel that others should too.
5

Aug 01, 2019

Wow! I can't imagine going through what our soldiers did during World War II especially those on Iwo Jima. They really were the greatest generation...made me think of my father-in-law and what he must have gone through during the war and when he was wounded over in Italy.
I loved the way this book was written and how the author made the characters come to life for me. Be prepared to shed some tears.
5

May 09, 2018

"Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommonvalorwas a commonvirtue." -Chester Nimitz

A gritty, raw, important read. You will never look at the courage and bravery of our military again. "Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue." -Chester Nimitz

A gritty, raw, important read. You will never look at the courage and bravery of our military again. ...more
5

Apr 17, 2012

Flags of Our Fathers chronicles the stories of the six men, five U.S. Marines and one Navy Corpsman, who raised the flag at Iwo Jima in the iconic photograph from World War II. This has gotten a lot of public attention in recent years, thanks to Clint Eastwood's film adaptation of this book (I'll admit I saw the movie first and liked it, so much so I went and borrowed the audio book from the library).

Author James Bradley, the son of John Bradley, the Navy Corpsman in the photo, knew little about Flags of Our Fathers chronicles the stories of the six men, five U.S. Marines and one Navy Corpsman, who raised the flag at Iwo Jima in the iconic photograph from World War II. This has gotten a lot of public attention in recent years, thanks to Clint Eastwood's film adaptation of this book (I'll admit I saw the movie first and liked it, so much so I went and borrowed the audio book from the library).

Author James Bradley, the son of John Bradley, the Navy Corpsman in the photo, knew little about his father's experiences in World War II when his father died in 1994. His quest to learn about that experience, which started like that of so many soldiers, sailors, and marines, and turned into unwanted fame and publicity after being in the photograph, resulted in this book, which is part history, part biography of the six men, and - thanks to extensive interviews with veterans involved in the Pacific war - part second-hand memoir.

The book starts perhaps a bit overly sentimental, as the description of the youth of the six men is a bit too "Golly gee shucks, small town life is great!", especially given that these men all grew up in the Great Depression. Once they join the service, though, things pick up, and the grim, brutal attack on Iwo takes center stage. The battle would claim the lives of three of the flag raisers before it ended, and two of the survivors lives were ruined by the unwanted publicity in one case and unfulfilled promises of advancement in the other. Only Bradley went on to live a successful, full life, and even he was haunted by his experiences on Iwo Jima, suffering from what would now be diagnosed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Flags is a powerful book. The story it tells is at once unique - the surviving flag raisers' fame - and common - the horrible combat experienced by so many servicemen in the Pacific. It deserves to be read.

I listened to the audio version read by Stephen Hoye. Hoye's delivery is solid. At times, he sounds a bit more sentimental than most audio book narrators, but when one remembers the words themselves were written by Bradley about his father's life, it becomes understandable.

As a final note, I have been inspired by Flags to try to learn more about my late grandfather's Navy service in World War II. Like Bradley's father, my grandfather didn't talk about the war with his children, but I'm hoping to at least get some information from the Navy's service records and go from there. For his alone, I'd have been glad to have read Flags of Our Fathers. ...more
4

Dec 30, 2009

This wasn't a happy book, but I'm glad I read it. The author follows the lives of the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who raise the second American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. I've always loved the Rosenthal photo, and the Marine Memorial based on the photo is my favorite in the DC area. Here are a few of my thoughts on the book:

I thought the first part of the book, covering the characters' childhoods, training, and the fight to take hell--I mean Iwo Jima--was better than the second This wasn't a happy book, but I'm glad I read it. The author follows the lives of the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who raise the second American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. I've always loved the Rosenthal photo, and the Marine Memorial based on the photo is my favorite in the DC area. Here are a few of my thoughts on the book:

I thought the first part of the book, covering the characters' childhoods, training, and the fight to take hell--I mean Iwo Jima--was better than the second part of the book, covering the the post-war period for the survivors. I like books to finish strong, so that was a bit disappointing.

I was vaguely aware that the famous photograph was really of the second "replacement" flag, but it was interesting to read about the details. The first flag raising was a big deal to all the Marines on the island. The main motivation behind putting up a new flag was because a Marine colonel overheard the Sec. of Navy say he wanted the original flag as a souvenir, so the colonel had the flag switched so his battalion could keep the original. Sending up a flag bigger than the first was an afterthought. No one on the island thought the second flag-raising was that big of a deal. And the famous photograph--the photographer didn't even look through the camera to grab it. It was just luck. I also didn't know that the battle for Iwo Jima continued on after the photo for a month.

I thought the author had a serious case of hero-worship for his father, one of the three flag-raisers that lived through the battle. Yes, his father was a wonderful, brave, caring man. I think the author was a little too hard on the other survivors because their post-war lives weren't as great. I also didn't like the author's conclusion that the flag-raisers weren't heroes. I disagree. Raising the flag wasn't really that special, but their other actions on Iwo Jima and during WWII (three of the flag-raisers also fought through Bougainville) did make them heroes several times over. Overall, the author drew too many conclusions--he should have just told the story and let the reader draw his or her own conclusions.

Like Band of Brothers, I found the most tragic casualties of war weren't the wounded or even the dead. It was the soldiers who made it back from the war--but never really lived normal lives because of what they experienced. I'm glad we've come a long way with post-traumatic stress disorder since then. I hope that very soon we won't have cause to go to war anymore. ...more
5

Jun 11, 2013

Flags Of Our Fathers is a great read for anyone who is interested in U.S. history. The author, James Bradley, takes the reader through the lives of the 6 soldiers who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. He lets the reader in on the lives of Harlon Block, Mike Strank, Franklin Sousley, Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon, and his father Jack “Doc” Bradley. The fantastic thing about this book is that the author shares the stories of these men, from when they were boys to their fates in the end, and he does Flags Of Our Fathers is a great read for anyone who is interested in U.S. history. The author, James Bradley, takes the reader through the lives of the 6 soldiers who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. He lets the reader in on the lives of Harlon Block, Mike Strank, Franklin Sousley, Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon, and his father Jack “Doc” Bradley. The fantastic thing about this book is that the author shares the stories of these men, from when they were boys to their fates in the end, and he does it evenly. Harlon Block was born to a very anti-violence Adventist mother who taught him not to kill, but as he grew up he entered the Marine Corps into the position of a parachutist, one of the most dangerous jobs in the Marines. Mike Strank was born in Czechoslovakia and grew up to be one of the toughest members of the U.S. Marine Corps; he was looked up to by the younger flag raisers and called the “old man” of the group. Franklin Sousley was born as a red-head in Hilltop, Kentucky to a family stricken by death, but he grew up to be a member of the Marine Corps: strong and courageous. Ira Hayes was born on an Indian reservation, was a quiet boy who grew into a quiet man, and became a parachutist in the U.S. Marines. Rene Gagnon was born in New Hampshire as a very shy guy and his life brought him to becoming a member of the Marine Corps. Jack Bradley had a different story from all the rest. He was born to a nice family in Wisconsin under the name of John and eventually joined the U.S. Navy in hopes of not having to meet combat. He worked in hospitals until he was brought unto the drastic change of combat. This book is extremely intriguing; once you pick it up, you cannot put it down. The author brings the reader a greater understanding of war and the views of the young men fighting in it. This book is a must read.
-Abby Chase
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5

Apr 08, 2009

I feel slightly embarassed that nearly every piece of information presented in this book was completely new to me. I was surprised by the horror of the Pacific war and horrified by the clear truth that I (along with most Americans I suspect)know next to nothing about the history of our own country. This compounded by the fact that our media has a tendancy to report the "good story" instead of the "truth."

That's really what this book is about - it isn't a war story about relaying all the gritty I feel slightly embarassed that nearly every piece of information presented in this book was completely new to me. I was surprised by the horror of the Pacific war and horrified by the clear truth that I (along with most Americans I suspect)know next to nothing about the history of our own country. This compounded by the fact that our media has a tendancy to report the "good story" instead of the "truth."

That's really what this book is about - it isn't a war story about relaying all the gritty details of this battle (although Bradley writes simply and straightforward about the remembered events of those long weeks, so readers intrested in a bit of gore won't be dissapointed), but what he is really conveying is the "rest of the story" behind the flagraising on Iwo and the resulting photograph that became a national addiction for a while, even though the American public was greatly mislead in what is actually happening in this photo. Mostly this book tells about the life stories of the six men captured in this photo.

...more
4

May 23, 2014

Enlightening and powerful, a patriotic humbling honor to read about the lives of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima....making them not just memorialized icons, but brothers and sons, a friend, a high school graduate, a mill worker, an athlete...mortal brave men who answered freedom's call to protect and serve.

My one negative observation: the author, in my opinion, interjected too much of himself - his thoughts, feelings, subjectivity - into the book, which seemed a little Enlightening and powerful, a patriotic humbling honor to read about the lives of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima....making them not just memorialized icons, but brothers and sons, a friend, a high school graduate, a mill worker, an athlete...mortal brave men who answered freedom's call to protect and serve.

My one negative observation: the author, in my opinion, interjected too much of himself - his thoughts, feelings, subjectivity - into the book, which seemed a little spotlight-off-putting vainglorious. ...more
4

Jun 15, 2008

Easily one of the most moving and memorable books I have ever read. I know that I've said that I don't get emotional over the books that I read, but Flags of Our Fathers is a definite exception. The author has a personal connection to the subject, and his own emotion over the true story of his father comes through wonderfully. It's as much about history as it is about family.

On a sour note, do not ever watch the movie. EVER! It's as awful as the book is wonderful.
5

Jan 29, 2016

I really enjoyed this book. I found it both compelling and tragic. I liked learning about a part of history i'd never before read about, the war in the Pacific, Iwo Jima and World War II. I also loved reading about the personal stories of the men and their families.
5

Jul 17, 2015

This is such a great book. It gives the background of not only the people from one of the most famous American photographs, but also of situations surrounding it.
I loved this book and am so thankful that I read it. I recommend it to all.
5

May 20, 2019

Not a book for the faint of heart or the squeamish. Also, not a book for those who merely want to engage in idol worship of those who go to war to protect us from those intent on harming us. This was a tough book to read on many levels for me. The atrocities of the Japanese during the years of World War II are incomprehensible to me--not just to the Americans, but on the Chinese, the Manchurians, and those they came into contact with in the Asia-Pacific region. At times, I could only read a few Not a book for the faint of heart or the squeamish. Also, not a book for those who merely want to engage in idol worship of those who go to war to protect us from those intent on harming us. This was a tough book to read on many levels for me. The atrocities of the Japanese during the years of World War II are incomprehensible to me--not just to the Americans, but on the Chinese, the Manchurians, and those they came into contact with in the Asia-Pacific region. At times, I could only read a few pages at a time before my heart and mind needed a break from the absolute cruelty trained into that generation.

As the daughter of an airman, the sister of an airman, the wife of an airman, the friend to many airmen, soldiers, sailors, and Marines, the heart of the men who raised the second flag at Iwo Jima is common. They were doing what they told, following orders, surviving a relentless enemy and an unforgiving place in an unbelievably difficult time. Raising that flag meant nothing more than any other routine job they accomplished during their time in the military. If a flag hadn't been on that pole, if the photographer hadn't come up the hill, if the wind hadn't blown just right to lift the stars and stripes into the air, then none of us would know any of their names. In fact, the faces of those in the photograph of the original flag raising might spring to mind instead. The picture we know--to the ones who survived to know the big deal that picture became, they were just doing their job.

But, having never served myself, I also understand the inspiration behind the hero-worship. Those men negated their impact, partly out of necessity to survive but mostly because they recognized more fully than the rest of us the cost of taking control of that island. When I look at the memorial, I see the sacrifice of those who never came home and the sacrifice of those who came home forever changed. When the men of Iwo Jima see the memorial, I imagine they remember sights and sounds that I pray the rest of us will never know.

The book is an excellent read. Mr. Bradley combines history with storytelling so we get to know the men of the photograph before they were famous. His descriptions of the battle were intensely real to me, and the stories of the men post-war were sometimes heartbreaking. I just wanted to wrap my arms around these men, to cry and to comfort and to be comforted. I'm thankful for them and the men they represent to me--not because they raised the flag but because they were willing to go and do the job that needed to be done regardless of the cost, because I know and hope they knew that the cost of not doing it was tremendously greater. ...more
4

Jan 17, 2018

James Bradley’s Flags of Our Fathers tells the story of the six men who raised the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima after giving the Japanese a long, brutal fight to win control over the small island. The genre of Bradley’s book is historical military nonfiction.
The six flag raisers, even though they did not know each other yet, were very similar. Nearly all of them were poor and the Great Depression, football, and religion impacted all of their families. Along with the Germans, the James Bradley’s Flags of Our Fathers tells the story of the six men who raised the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima after giving the Japanese a long, brutal fight to win control over the small island. The genre of Bradley’s book is historical military nonfiction.
The six flag raisers, even though they did not know each other yet, were very similar. Nearly all of them were poor and the Great Depression, football, and religion impacted all of their families. Along with the Germans, the Japanese were now another enemy of the United States. Patriotism sparked in these six men when Pearl Harbor was attacked. At this time, only one of the six was already in the military; however, the others were finishing high school. As they enter the military, they are stationed at Camp Pendleton, which is south of Los Angeles. The six began their brutal training with the Marines at Pendleton. After they concluded their training, the men were being transported to island X. SPOILER ALERT: The identity of island X is revealed to the Marines as Iwo Jima. Their orders were to push through the enemy lines and make their way to Mount Suribachi, which was at the highest point of the island. The Japanese could hit any part of the Iwo Jima with artillery from Suribachi, which is why the Americans needed to conquer it. Iwo Jima had been hit hard by airplanes for many days, but it was barely damaged. The Japanese had dug into the ground so deep that artillery would not affect them. After the airplane bombardment, the Navy beat down on the Japanese on the day before the Marines were assaulting the beaches. As the Marines push through the beach, machine gun and artillery fire were rained down on them. The six flag raisers saw many brutalities that they wished they had never seen. As they reach the peak of Mount Suribachi, they are pictured raising the American flag. Just like a baby being born, the picture of the flag raising will never be forgotten by the United States military nor by the world. The fight over the island did not end there, as it went on for many more days. Over this time period, three of the flag raisers were killed by the Japanese. As the three remaining so-called “heroes” were transported back to the U.S., they were seen as political symbols. The government began using them to get people to buy bonds. They did not like how they were treated when they arrived back home. As they dealt with the press for the rest of their lives, the flag raisers went back to living their own lives with their families.
I would give Flags of Our Fathers a four out of five rating. I always love reading about historical events that I do not know much about. This book filled me in on how monumental and important the island of Iwo Jima was, as well as explaining what the United States Marines had to endure to win over the island. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about important events in military history. ...more

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