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Flyboys: A True Story of Courage

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Packed with Historical Events

Based on the cover and what you can read on the back of the book, it would seem that Flyboys is centered solely on some of the experiences that American fighter pilots endured in the Pacific during World War II. But, to say that this is all the book covers would be qui...
Based on the cover and what you can read on the back of the book, it would seem that Flyboys is centered solely on some of the experiences that American fighter pilots endured in the Pacific during World War II. But, to say that this is all the book covers would be quite a misstatement. Before and between the stories about heroic American pilots, author James Bradley provides historical events that help the reader to understand why the war fought the way it was. Although major portions of the book are dedicated to the brave actions of the flyboys, I would say that the major theme of the book is actually about understanding why the war was fought. Bradley not only includes information about the fanatical culture that engulfed Japan during the war, but also provides examples of events centuries ago that helped lead Japan and the World towards WWII. I found that these insights into Japanese life in the early 20th century were among the most interesting parts of the book to me. One part of the book I wasn¿t fond of was the way that Bradley seemed to sympathize with the actions of the Japanese by blaming them on American actions. Although I think Bradley does a good job of supporting the major theme of the book, understanding the war based on historical facts, I do not always agree with the conclusions he reaches. For instance, attributes Japan¿s actions in China far more than I do to the actions of the United States in places like Hawaii and Central America. It is clear that Bradley did extensive research to write this book, talking to many of the flyboys and their families and friends, and even interviewed George H.W. Bush about what their life was life before during and after the war. Overall I would say that this was a pretty good book that included a lot of interesting historical info that you don¿t hear a lot about from many other places. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to learn more about the Pacific Campaign in WWII and won¿t be overly offended by certain ideas that contradict many mainstream views of the war. I would not recommend this book to the squeamish however as some of the horrific actions depicted in the book can only be described as grisly.

posted by Anonymous on October 8, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

11 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

Flyboys- Good, Bad and the Ugly!

'Flyboys', a term that actually doesn't seem to really have any sort of meaning to many men who actually served as pilots during World War Two, vividly illustrates the pain and suffering that both civilian and military combatants endured in regards to the Pacific Theatr...
'Flyboys', a term that actually doesn't seem to really have any sort of meaning to many men who actually served as pilots during World War Two, vividly illustrates the pain and suffering that both civilian and military combatants endured in regards to the Pacific Theatre. That being said, the fact that it illustrates this suffering is no major achievement. The acts themselves, that being the firebombing and obliteration of Japanese cities, and the severe cruelty and animalistic barbarity of certain Japanese combatants, are inherently illustrative. A teen-ager could have written about these subjects in a research paper, and his or her paper would have had the same visceral impact. In fact, many times one wonders if this book was actually written by a teen ager. I realize the point of the book is to illustrate the barbarity of war, and in that 'Flyboys' succeeds. However, the sheer seriousness of the subject does not excuse Mr.Bradley from the overall poor to mediocre writing in this book, nor does it absolve him from giving quoted sources due credit. In fact, one would think the serious nature of this book would add to the importance of skillful conveyance of ideas and supposed facts. Paying tribute to this subject certainly doesn't excuse Bradley from getting his research correct in something as simple as famous Japanese 'hold outs' of World War Two. In this example, he refers to 'Lieutenant Onoda', which is correct, but also to 'Sergeant Yoko'. There is in fact no Sergeant Yoko,as Bradley writes, but a Corporal YOKOI. To make matters worse, Yokoi was actually in Guam- not some 30 mile square piece of Earth off the coast of who knows where! It takes seconds on Google to find this information, yet this misinformation makes it to press as FACT? What sort of credibility does such a disregard to simple facts lend to the rest of the information contained in this book? One can only wonder, especially considering the great barbarity of Bradley's claims regarding the Japanese. Of course, there is more than just Bradley and this book regarding this topic, but how do we know as readers that other facts weren't overlooked by Bradley? These are not simply arguable ideas that Bradley puts forth to substantiate his thesis, but sentences written as statements of FACT. Throughout 'Flyboys', one encounters Gen.Curtis LeMay, who becomes Curtis, General Billy Mitchell, who becomes Billy, and of course numerous others of significance being referred to on a first name basis. This isn't to mention the idea of the B-25 being called 'Billy'. In referring to men of stature, it is ridiculous to refer to them by their first names. I am almost positive that 'JAMES' knew none of these men personally, and had no right to reference them as if he did. Yes, this is an argument about mechanics, however, 'Flyboys' is a published book that claims to accurately portray history. Throughout the book, this 'cutesy' informal style of writing becomes very irritating to students of history, to whom it is painfully obvious that little care was taken in the final editing stages. There are other ways in which this book is written that simply do not conform to actual scholarly studies of historical events. True, Bradley is not claiming to be the Pacific Theatre's version of Hans Mommsen or Ian Kershaw, but if you are going to write history, historians such as Mommsen and Kershaw are the ones to measure works by. This is 'dime store' history, which is great for selling books, but not so great for giving the men in this book, the airmen of the United States Navy, the respect they deserve. Two stars for this book from me. This is not because the book was 'fair to good', but because it is only fair to respect the men in this book, such as General LeMay, General Mitchell, Warren Earl Vaughn, and the other AIRMEN by honoring their ACTS as soldiers. Otherwise, read at your own risk, especially if you are used to more scholarly works of history.

posted by Anonymous on January 11, 2005

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2005

    Flyboys- Good, Bad and the Ugly!

    'Flyboys', a term that actually doesn't seem to really have any sort of meaning to many men who actually served as pilots during World War Two, vividly illustrates the pain and suffering that both civilian and military combatants endured in regards to the Pacific Theatre. That being said, the fact that it illustrates this suffering is no major achievement. The acts themselves, that being the firebombing and obliteration of Japanese cities, and the severe cruelty and animalistic barbarity of certain Japanese combatants, are inherently illustrative. A teen-ager could have written about these subjects in a research paper, and his or her paper would have had the same visceral impact. In fact, many times one wonders if this book was actually written by a teen ager. I realize the point of the book is to illustrate the barbarity of war, and in that 'Flyboys' succeeds. However, the sheer seriousness of the subject does not excuse Mr.Bradley from the overall poor to mediocre writing in this book, nor does it absolve him from giving quoted sources due credit. In fact, one would think the serious nature of this book would add to the importance of skillful conveyance of ideas and supposed facts. Paying tribute to this subject certainly doesn't excuse Bradley from getting his research correct in something as simple as famous Japanese 'hold outs' of World War Two. In this example, he refers to 'Lieutenant Onoda', which is correct, but also to 'Sergeant Yoko'. There is in fact no Sergeant Yoko,as Bradley writes, but a Corporal YOKOI. To make matters worse, Yokoi was actually in Guam- not some 30 mile square piece of Earth off the coast of who knows where! It takes seconds on Google to find this information, yet this misinformation makes it to press as FACT? What sort of credibility does such a disregard to simple facts lend to the rest of the information contained in this book? One can only wonder, especially considering the great barbarity of Bradley's claims regarding the Japanese. Of course, there is more than just Bradley and this book regarding this topic, but how do we know as readers that other facts weren't overlooked by Bradley? These are not simply arguable ideas that Bradley puts forth to substantiate his thesis, but sentences written as statements of FACT. Throughout 'Flyboys', one encounters Gen.Curtis LeMay, who becomes Curtis, General Billy Mitchell, who becomes Billy, and of course numerous others of significance being referred to on a first name basis. This isn't to mention the idea of the B-25 being called 'Billy'. In referring to men of stature, it is ridiculous to refer to them by their first names. I am almost positive that 'JAMES' knew none of these men personally, and had no right to reference them as if he did. Yes, this is an argument about mechanics, however, 'Flyboys' is a published book that claims to accurately portray history. Throughout the book, this 'cutesy' informal style of writing becomes very irritating to students of history, to whom it is painfully obvious that little care was taken in the final editing stages. There are other ways in which this book is written that simply do not conform to actual scholarly studies of historical events. True, Bradley is not claiming to be the Pacific Theatre's version of Hans Mommsen or Ian Kershaw, but if you are going to write history, historians such as Mommsen and Kershaw are the ones to measure works by. This is 'dime store' history, which is great for selling books, but not so great for giving the men in this book, the airmen of the United States Navy, the respect they deserve. Two stars for this book from me. This is not because the book was 'fair to good', but because it is only fair to respect the men in this book, such as General LeMay, General Mitchell, Warren Earl Vaughn, and the other AIRMEN by honoring their ACTS as soldiers. Otherwise, read at your own risk, especially if you are used to more scholarly works of history.

    11 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    surpasses Flags

    This book truly surpasses Flags of our Father. The true characters of the book gave it the ability to be part of the story. Enjoyed every minute of it.

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2007

    Packed with Historical Events

    Based on the cover and what you can read on the back of the book, it would seem that Flyboys is centered solely on some of the experiences that American fighter pilots endured in the Pacific during World War II. But, to say that this is all the book covers would be quite a misstatement. Before and between the stories about heroic American pilots, author James Bradley provides historical events that help the reader to understand why the war fought the way it was. Although major portions of the book are dedicated to the brave actions of the flyboys, I would say that the major theme of the book is actually about understanding why the war was fought. Bradley not only includes information about the fanatical culture that engulfed Japan during the war, but also provides examples of events centuries ago that helped lead Japan and the World towards WWII. I found that these insights into Japanese life in the early 20th century were among the most interesting parts of the book to me. One part of the book I wasn¿t fond of was the way that Bradley seemed to sympathize with the actions of the Japanese by blaming them on American actions. Although I think Bradley does a good job of supporting the major theme of the book, understanding the war based on historical facts, I do not always agree with the conclusions he reaches. For instance, attributes Japan¿s actions in China far more than I do to the actions of the United States in places like Hawaii and Central America. It is clear that Bradley did extensive research to write this book, talking to many of the flyboys and their families and friends, and even interviewed George H.W. Bush about what their life was life before during and after the war. Overall I would say that this was a pretty good book that included a lot of interesting historical info that you don¿t hear a lot about from many other places. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to learn more about the Pacific Campaign in WWII and won¿t be overly offended by certain ideas that contradict many mainstream views of the war. I would not recommend this book to the squeamish however as some of the horrific actions depicted in the book can only be described as grisly.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2011

    A waste of time...

    Poorly written baised account time and events in American history where extreme measures and distasteful alliances were necessary to preserve democracy and establish peace. Bradley obviously set out to make a politcal statement instead of writing an entertaining story. His observations may be true but his context is unwelcome and out of place. No doubt it sold well in Japan...

    5 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2009

    Not for the faint of heart - but a very touching story

    It was clear from early on in the book that I would have to be very stoic to get through the descriptions of the horrendous war crimes. This book is very fair to both sides and gives a unique perspective on how easily morality is blurred when engaged in war. This book was heartbreaking and stirred feelings inside of me that I have never felt from any other war account. At the end of the book I felt like I was mourning with the families of those Flyboys who were so brutally murdered. But my tears were also tears of gratitude for these brave boys who were forced to become men at such a young age. I wish I could have known them, and I thank God for them and pray that America will always be worthy of their sacrifice. Every American who is old enough and mature enough to handle the graphic descriptions in this book should read about these heroic men.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Great!!!

    Great book. Told a great story and was filled with good facts about the war. Some of the facts are not known by most people, i think. Its a good book goes great with Flags of our Fathers. Its a great read for someone who wants to learn about the war or someone who just wants to read a good book. Not for young kids though, sometimes a little gory and gruesome. All in all a pretty nifty book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2004

    Unconvincing balancing act for Japanese atrocities

    The footnotes are not fitted to the text. The quoted text is tied together by questionable interlineations and interpretations. For example to quote George Washington (calling Native Americans 'wolves') as if this were equivalent to the racism of Tojo and Hitler is obnoxious in the extreme. Washington learned his military lessons from the allied French and Indians and knew them to be fierce opponents. The attempt to balance the Japanese perspective with the view that we were once just as bad may as well be an attempt to justify Hitler on the basis that he was no worse than barbarians of centuries past. 'Civilization' takes a pounding in this book that seems to ignore that there are civilizing forces at work in the world that in the long term improve our lives.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2011

    NOT RECOMMENDED

    While the subject matter could have been very interesting and Bradley did approach the subject in new ways, his complete absence of respect for the United States military is appalling. Its one thing to try to see from another point of view, its something completely different to attempt to change recorded history.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2007

    This book was very disappointing.

    While the information in this book was good, it was unnecessarily gruesome and became just a medium to communicate Bradley's personal political agenda. Very disappointed.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2004

    WWII Vets Should be Outraged

    It's surprising that the man who wrote such a beautiful book as Flags of Our Fathers could turn on the memory of America's honorable military veterans and write a book that equates their actions with the brutality of the Japanese. Mr. Bradley makes no bones about his view that America's military conduct in wars dating to the 19th century is as brutal and illegal as the Axis nations'. Any WW2 vet should be outraged by this moral equivalency. 'Flyboys' insults their memory.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2003

    A Story that Should be Told---but it was soiled by the author

    During my 18th & 19th years I was what Bradley called, a 'Flyboy'. I read and enjoyed Flags of Our Fathers, as well as Flyboys which I just finished. But I must tell you I am surprised and shocked about how----and mystified by why---- he made such an effort to equate American military actions toward Japan with the brutal treatment, including enslavement,by the Japanese of Allied POWs. In my case, the war was ended----and the killing stopped----just as I was finishing Bombardier School and slated to go to the Pacific in the nose of a B-25. Except for the B-29 battering of Japan by Gen LeMay and the dropping of the A-Bomb----both of which he seems to suggest to be at least quasi-atrocities----I , along with many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of other teenaged Americans would have become candidates for the same fate as the eight he wrote about. Mr Bradley is obviously a brilliant man and a gifted writer. Hence ----whether he will admit it or not----- he is surely aware of the absurdity of these comparisons. I have searched my mind for a wholesome reason for his actions and I am truly sad to have to say that the only reason that makes any sense (but dubious morality) is that he is pandering to the Japanese market in order to sell books. In doing so he insults the memory of every American who sacrificed so much---many with their very lives----in World War II to preserve his right to do so.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    AR1

    A fantastic novel covering multiple stories that keeps your interest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Flyboys: Barnes & Nobles Book Review

    Following completion of James Bradley's Flyboys, my overall impressions are complete satisfaction. Throughout the novel, Bradley offers an abundance of information not only concerning the tale of the eight American pilots who were shot down, but also a brief yet thorough explanation of World War II. As a teenager, prior to reading, my knowledge of WWII was very limited to only what I had seen in the movies, or quick facts learned from history text books. While allowing the reader to get attached to the heroic story of the eight airmen, Bradley does a fantastic job by providing enough background and basic knowledge to inform an unknowing individual of everything that occurred during the war. Despite the general discussion of the war, an even deeper and more detailed story begins with the eight naval airmen, entailing the story of each from start to finish.The adversity between cultures is clearly revealed when the horrific truths of this story unfold. Unimaginable circumstances are unveiled to the reader time after time. The unfortunate events compel the reader to continue with the reading despite the undesirable outcomes of seven of the airmen. The heroic story goes onto explain the rescue mission of George H.W. Bush who eventually became the 41st president of the United States. Bradley concludes the novel with the outcome of the war and the overall effects across the world. Despite the gruesome truths of this sad story, an history fan should be encouraged to read this fantastic novel with anticipations of unforgettable moments.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2005

    they were only boys

    Maybe the best book on WWII I've ever read...very informative...very inspiring...very humbling. My two sons are now 20 and 17. I cannot begin to imagine them going through the hell those boys, and many thousands of other like them, had to go through...for a cause much bigger than themselves...what sacrifice...what loss...what a tremendous loss to their families...they were just boys. The book left me numb and speechless, but it also instilled a deeper appreciation of my freedom earned by the supreme sacrifices of those who went before me. This book touched my every emotion. War should never be portrayed a a glorious event...makes me wonder why a major war zone is refered to a a 'theatre'. Thank you veterans for your hardships endured for those of us who will hopefully never have to experience war...you were just boys...thank you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2005

    Too Flighty for Such a Heavy Subject

    While his overall goal is worthy, Bradley's style, inaccuracies, and lack of solid authority make this book more of a miss than a hit. He should have stuck to the basic story of the downed flyers on Chichi Jima, a story which he tells well. The preface, which attempts to explain Japanese-American relations for the past 200 years, is sophomoric and in need of deeper inquiry. The Washington Post review of the book sums it best.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2005

    Story that should have been told in 1945.

    ¿Flyboys¿ is an excellently researched and very informative book. The title is somewhat misleading as I was expecting the book to be about the flyers like other books I have read in this genera such as, ¿War¿s End¿ by Charles Sweeny and ¿Flight of the Enola Gay¿ by Paul Tibbets. However I was not disappointed in the story that Mr. Bradley chose to tell. The book begins by illustrating the events that led to war with Japan and the strategical significance of Chichi Jima in that war. This information is interesting but it does make the beginning of the book a little slow. I urge the reader to keep reading, the rest of the book will make the effort worthwhile. Mr. Bradley then introduces the reader to a group of common young men, typical of those who fought and died in WWII. After a short background is established on each he tells their story, and how their story fits with the bigger story of the war. Mr. Bradley has taken a great deal of care to use direct quotes from eyewitnesses to the events wherever possible. His writing style tends to be more of a textbook style than that of a novel, but in doing so he has paid the respect to the events that they deserve, without adding much of his personal feelings about the events. I have known many WWII veterans and several of them were Flyboys, this book accurately portrays what many of them have expressed to me. Parts of this book are disturbing to read, but it will provide the reader with a better understanding of the events leading up to the beginning, and the end of WWII.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2005

    Enlightening and Balanced

    Bradley told it as it was!! The brutality of the Japanese captors as well as the ruthless tactics of the Americans. War is a filthy buisness and Bradley detailed it all. I learned a lot about Japan as it evolved towards WWII and what the citzenry endoured. I enjoyed this book cover to cover.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2004

    Fantastic

    Amazing account of a group of flyboys in the Pacific Theatre during the madness that was the destruction of the war against Japan. Bradley also introduces the fact that the hatred that culminated in Pearl Habor and ultimatley the Atomic Bombs had its beiginnings when Commodore Matthew Perry landed in Japan in 1853, unknowingly bringing an isolationist Japan into the forfront as an industrialized nation. Also, the book refelcts the facts that both governments viewed each other as 'uncivilized barbarians' and pushed these feelings into the minds of the public through propaganda, fueling the hatred. The human element is also brought into the equation from both sides with horrifying accounts from the U.S. fire bombing of Tokyo, which killed 100,000 civilians in one night, to the atrocities Japan brought upon our captured flyboys and other military personnal. Definatley a great read and a lesson for generations to come that war is not as glorious for the winners as well as for the losers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2004

    The Real Story

    Mr Bradley lived in Japan for a few years and has let his experiences and admiration for the Japanese people color his acceptance of the Japanese Army in WW2. His attempt to justify their actions is hard to take. Please try reading 'The Rape of Nanking' by Iris Chang to get a real picture of the actions of the Japanese Army. Mr. Bradley's father never forgave them for what he saw on Iwo Jima.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2015

    A real story of WWII.

    I knew some facts of WWII but this book covered a lot of the war in the Pacific . Great read for WWII students.

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