Customer Reviews for

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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  • Posted July 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Misled and annoyed, followed by appreciative and solemn. I don't

    Misled and annoyed, followed by appreciative and solemn. I don't think the person who wrote the blurb about the book actually read the book. The first third of the book doesn't really have anything to do with the last half of the book. And former President Bush makes up a very, very small part of the narrative. Having read Bradley's book Flags of Our Fathers, I was interested in what he had to say President Bush's tour in the Pacific.

    Basically, the first third of the book should be more aptly titled "How to rationalize committing atrocities during wartime". It talks about how "civilized" nations (like the US) raped, murdered and tortured the people they were fighting against, so Japan felt justified in doing the same. The narrative the Bradley used was much too familiar, with famous people being identified by their first names (General Mitchell was 'Billy', General Doolittle was 'Jimmy', etc.). There is also the problem that there are many quotes, but no linking to explain who some of the quotes are from or in what context they were made.

    As the story finally moved into the era of WW2 and the actual aviators attacking Chichi Jima, the story got better. He continued with the too familiar first name accounts and altogether used "Flyboys" way too much. And the story strayed from the events on Chichi Jima quite often. There were times that the book read like someones high school research paper. But, the overall information was well presented. The differences in culture were well documented and I felt an emotional connection to the people involved that I hadn't expected. I still feel slighted and misled by the book blurb.

    The eBook edition was formatted decently. The illustrations at the beginning appear to be cut off and there were a few spelling mistakes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Great if your in to WWII and aircraft

    Shows what Hero's were.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    Good Read

    This was a good read, easy to get into.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2011

    NOOK version lacking

    Not a review of the book.
    The NOOK version does not contain any of the photographs from the print versions, nor does it contain the index.
    What a shame.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2006

    Read only the first half.

    While I was hoping for much more of a history book about the battle and the men involved, what I got in the second half of the book was a political commentary that put me to sleep.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2003

    Someone take away his shift key

    I am a great fan of Bradley's previous work, 'Flags of Our Fathers,' but one tendency of Bradley's that bothered me was his use of cute diminutives to describe the flag raisers - mainly calling them 'the boys' when referring to them as a group. In 'Flyboys', not only does Bradley latch on to this unfortunate habit like an anchor, he goes so far as to use it as the title of the book. His continued and constant over-employment of the term 'Flyboys' (capitalized and all) quickly becomes cloying and eventually seems insulting and condascending to the veterans he writes about. I noted the term four times in one paragraph, and his decision to use the term as a proper noun smacks of Dave Berry's satirical newspaper columns. Bradley does not stop there, however; Army Air Corps Generals William Mitchell and James Dolittle become 'Billy' and 'Jimmy', and the Japanese are called the 'Spirit Boys. I also found his random insertions of personal interviews and his self-congradulatory prose about hanging out with George H.W. Bush unprofessional. Combine that with the poorly attributed quotes, and it skirts the spirit, if not the letter, of plagarism. Many readers will take offense to Bradley's discussion of atrocities committed by both sides; I did not. It's difficult and unpleasant reading, but Bradley takes pains to balance it. There is a lot of amazing information in this book, which is why I finished it despite my increasing annoyance over Bradley's obsessive insistence on using demeaning terms for young men engaged in dealdy serious business. The fate of the aviators shot down near Chichi Jima may never have been revealed, nor would have the depridations of the Japanese who captured them. Bradley also writes powerfully about the incendiary bombing of Tokyo and the civilians caught in it. All in all, a worthwhile book for much of the information, if one can get past Bradley's cutesy prose and diminutive terms for the men he writes about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2003

    Now I know Why

    I was unaware that the roots of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the American treatment of the Native Americans in our western expansion and the Mexican-American War. Granted it is a treatment we should not be proud of. It is apparent to me that the author has an agenda in the first part of this very good book. If he wants to write a book on the western expansion and the way the Indians were treated fine, but to tell me that is one of the reasons for Japan attacking the United States is because we are a racist nation is stretching it a bit. In one comment the author says any visitor to American could easily see blacks hanging from trees like it occured on every street corner in America.

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