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Flyboys: A True Story of Courage

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 7 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 21 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 21 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 3 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 3 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 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 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 October 30, 2013

    Old and meaningless information

    It seems that the author in his writing about atrocities, and comparitive blame to both the American troops and the Japanese troops, gives blatant equality to both countries. I would like the author to think about the following. Did fhe Americans, wiith a sword, cut off fhe heads of the Japanese, at the orders of the officers. -- Did the Americans at the orders of their officers, EAT their Japanese prisoners.-- Did the Americans use terrible and continual torture on a daily basis. -- Kill POW's with sharpened bamboo spears -- Kill POW's to gain strength -- And on and on!

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  • Posted November 15, 2011

    Misguided . . .or Mercenary

    test

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  • Posted May 2, 2010

    Informative but difficult to follow

    I was somewhat disappointed with the book Flyboys by James Bradley. When I choose the book for a school book report, I was expecting an exciting story about American fighter pilots during World War II but instead it was an elaborate account of the war.
    At times the book was very difficult to follow because it would jump from story to story over and over again. I was expecting a recap of the flyboys story and their mission in the Pacific War but their story was scattered though out the book with other stories that seemed completely irrelevant to what happened to the aviators. I was hoping that the story would be full of action and adventure but in retrospect, it felt like I was in school reading out of my textbook. I didn't think that the book was that engaging. Also the story was very gruesome and sometimes quite disturbing. For example, when the Japanese invaded China they would often abandon their troops and stop sending supplies to them. So for food the troops would eat their dead and sometimes the dead enemies.
    On the other hand, the book did a nice job of describing why the war happened in the first place. It told about our relations with Japan since the day Commodore Perry scared them in to opening their gates for trade. This gave a little background on the story if you haven't learned about World War II. Bradley also told the story from both sides, the American and the Japanese, and how each side veiwed each other. I thought the struggles each of the Flyboys during captivity was eye opening to the brutality of war. I also thought that it was a good idea to travel for Bradley to Chi Chi Jima and to Japan to talk to World War II Japanese Veterans and to get a sense of what it would've been like to have been in the Flyboy's shoes.
    To sum it up, I was disappointed in the book because of how it was written and how much history was in the book. Bradley did a good job at giving information about pre-war incidents (even if it was to much) and getting all the research on the conflict itself. If I were to change one thing about the book I would try and cut out the filler making the book a little shorter but enhancing the reader's attention to the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2007

    False Advertising

    I bought this book because, as Vietnam era Navy carrier fighter pilot and amateur historian, I was lured by the title and short summary (and the book was on sale for $5 in hardcover). Boy have I been duped! Bradley uses at least half of the book to justify Japanese atrocities during the war,stating ad nauseum how the impressionable and put-upon Japanese learned their barbarism by studying the American persecution of the American Indians and other nefarious deeds perpetuated by other evil white Christian nations in the 18th and 19th centuries. We learn all about the details of the slaughter of Native Americans, as well as the persecution of the Mexicans, Philipinos, and black slaves, and British, French, Dutch, and Russian imperialism. What in the world does this have to do with US Naval aviation? Nothing, except for using such ridiculous comparisons to justify the Japanese rape, torture, pillage, and ruthless slaughter of millions of Chinese during the undeclared 1920s Sino-Japanese war and (ultimately)the torture and slaughter of captured American airmen on the Pacific Island of Chichi Jima in WWII. Mr. Bradley's dead father, one of the celebrated Iwo Jima marine flag-raisers, would be ashamed of his America-hating son, as well as embarrased, as I was, at his distortion of history and use of his father's celebrity to espouse this clap-trap in the disguise of 'A True Story of Courage' (the book's subtitle). Bradley should find a more suitable career as a leftist-revisionist political science professor at an elite Eastern university.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 10, 2011

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