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Flags of Our Fathers

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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 ...

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Overview

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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.

In Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley draws on those documents to retrace the lives of his father and the men of his 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
James Bradley's classic work of American military history fully captures the story behind the most famous photograph taken during World War II: the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. Bradley, the son of one of the flagraisers, exhaustively researched the lives of the six Easy Company soldiers who participated in the event and discovered that the adulation the heroes received on their return home was not always welcome.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Say "Iwo Jima," and what comes to mind? Most likely a famous photograph from 1945: six tired, helmeted Marines, fresh from a long, terrifying and bloody battle, work together to raise the American flag on Mount Suribachi. Bradley's father, John, was one of the six. In this voluminous and memorable work of popular history mixed with memoir, Bradley and Powers (White Town Drowsing) reconstruct those Marines' experiences, and those of their Pacific Theater comrades. The authors begin with the six soldiers' childhoods. Soon enough, bombs have fallen on Pearl Harbor, and by May '43 the young men have become proud leathernecks. Bradley and Powers incorporate accounts of specific battles, like "Hellzapoppin Ridge" (Bougainville, December '43), and pull in corps life and lore, from the tough-minded to the slightly silly, from mandatory penis inspections (medics checking for VD) to life in the pitch-dark of "Tent City No. 1." And they cover the strategy and tactics leading up to the awful battle for the island--the navy's disputed plans for offshore bombardment, cut at the last minute from 10 days to three; the 16 miles of Japanese underground tunnels, far more than Allied intelligence expected. A quarter of the book follows the fighting on Iwo Jima, sortie by sortie. The final chapters pursue the veterans' subsequent lives: Bradley and Powers set themselves against often-sanctimonious tradition, retrieving the stories of six more or less troubled individuals from the anonymity of heroic myth. A simple thesis emerges from all the detail worked into this touching group portrait, in a comment by John Bradley: "The heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn't come back." No reader will forget the lesson. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
This story stars the six soldiers who raised Old Glory over Mt. Suribachi during the bloody battle for Iwo Jima in World War II. Joe Rosenthal's powerful photo of their shouldering the flag became the symbol of U.S. triumph over the Japanese. The three surviving flag raisers, including Bradley's father, John, toured as wartime heroes, selling billions in bonds. But John Bradley, who had been badly wounded, insisted he was not a hero; only the men "who did not come back" were heroes. His son re-creates the backgrounds of the events as seen by his protagonists, such as amphibious assaults on fiercely defended islands; horrifying deaths and injuries to the troops; and grotesque episodes, like the torture and murder of a U.S. prisoner. These fragments of the Pacific war dramatize what the six achieved in spite of obstacles and frustrations; one, a Native American, succumbed to depression and alcohol, dying ten years after the war. Actor Barry Bostwick's resonant voice enunciates well, except for slighting an "r" in "February," a key month on Suribachi. Recommended for those who like tales of youths who fought and died for their country.--Gordon Blackwell, Eastchester, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Keith Henderson
No battle of World War II was more brutally intense than the capture of Iwo Jima, and this book brilliantly capsules the inch-by-inch combat. At its heart is the iconic photo of the flag raising on that island. It traces the lives of the six men in the picture, their courage, their failings, and, in a way, their commonness. They weren't conscious heroes, just men doing an often ghastly, but necessary job. It gives us sober second thoughts about war and its supposed glory.
The Christian Science Monitor
Bernstein
Flags of Our Fathers is one of the most instructive and moving books on war and its aftermath that we are likely to see, in part because it is instructive and moving in unexpected ways. On one level, Mr. Bradley has composed a touching eulogy to his father, one that honors him precisely for those qualities that did not earn him fame and recognition on Iwo Jima. He has also forged an unforgettable tableau of one of the most savage battlefields in history, a battlefield of wholesale death, mutilation and waste. Beyond that he has produced an arresting meditation on the nature of heroism, the public perception of it, and the unbridgeable chasm between the two.
The New York Times
Gregory Orfalea
Flags focuses on the lives of the six men who, quite by chance, found themselves hoisting the piece of Japanese plumbing that became a U.S. flagpole on Mount Suribachi. The authors take the men from their homes in varied corners of the country before the war, through extensive training, to their date with destiny... Seeing them as ordinary men makes their heroism all the more stunning.
—Gregory Orfalea, National Review
From the Publisher
“Unforgettable ... one of the most instructive and moving books on war and its aftermath that we are likely to see ... its portrayal rivals Saving Private Ryan in its shocking, unvarnished immediacy.”—The New York Times

“The best battle book I ever read. These stories, from the time the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima enlisted, their training, and the landing and subsequent struggle, fill me with awe.”—Stephen Ambrose

“A powerful book whose vivid and horrific images do not easily leave the mind ... [Flags of Our Fathers] relates the brutalizing story of Iwo Jima with a fine eye for both the strategic imperative and the telling incident.”—The Boston Globe

“Brings a heartfelt personal dimension to this penetrating and insightful look at an American icon.... Flags of Our Fathers captivates as the story behind a famous photo, a story that lives on in a son’s heart.”—National Review

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553384154
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/29/2006
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 382
  • Sales rank: 52,953
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

James Bradley is the son of John "Doc" Bradley, one of the six flag-raisers. A speaker and a writer, he lives in Rye, New York.

Ron Powers is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He is the author of White Town Drowsing and Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain. He lives in Vermont.

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Read an Excerpt

Flags of Our Fathers


By James Bradley with Ron Powers

Random House

James Bradley with Ron Powers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0553384155


Chapter One

Sacred Ground

The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know --Harry Truman

In the spring of 1998 six boys called to me from half a century ago on a distant mountain, and I went there. For a few days I set aside my comfortable life--my business concerns, my life in Rye, New York--and made a pilgrimage to the other side of the world, to a tiny Japanese island in the Pacific Ocean called Iwo Jima.

There, waiting for me, was the mountain the boys had climbed in the midst of a terrible battle half a century earlier. The Japanese called the mountain Suribachi, and on its battle-scarred summit the boys raised an American flag to symbolize our country's conquest of that volcanic island, even though the fighting would rage for another month.

One of those flag raisers was my father.

The fate of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries was being forged in blood on the island of Iwo Jima and others like it in the Pacific, as well as in North Africa, parts of Asia, and virtually all of Europe. The global conflict known as World War II had mostly teenagers as its soldiers--kids who had come of age in cultures that resembled those of the nineteenth century.

My father and his five comrades--they were either teenagers or in their early twenties--typified thesekids: tired, scared, determined, brave. Like hundreds of thousands of other young men from many countries, they were trying to do their patriotic duty and trying to survive.

But something unusual happened to these six: History turned all its focus, for 1/400th of a second, on them. It froze them in an elegant instant of one of the bloodiest battles of the twentieth century, if not in the history of warfare--froze them in a camera lens as they hoisted an American flag on a makeshift iron pole.

Their collective image became one of the most recognized and most reproduced in the history of photography. It gave them a kind of immortality--a faceless immortality. The flag raising on Iwo Jima became a symbol of the island, the mountain, the battle; of World War II; of the highest ideals of the nation; of valor itself. It became everything except the salvation of the boys who performed it.

For these six, history had a different, special destiny that no one could have predicted, least of all the flag raisers themselves.

My father, John Henry Bradley, returned home to small-town Wisconsin after the war. He shoved the mementos of his immortality into a few cardboard boxes and hid these in a closet. He married his childhood sweetheart. He opened a funeral home, fathered eight children, joined the PTA, the Lions, and the Elks--and shut out virtually any conversation on the topic of raising the flag on Iwo Jima.

When he died, in January 1994, in the town of his birth, he might have believed he was taking the story of his part in the flag raising with him to the grave, where he apparently felt it belonged. He had trained us, as children, to deflect the phone-call requests for media interviews that never diminished over the years. We were to tell the caller that our father was on a fishing trip, usually in Canada. But John Bradley never fished. No copy of the famous photograph hung in our house. When we did manage to extract from him a remark about the incident, his responses were short and simple, and he quickly changed the subject.

And this is how we Bradley children grew up: happily enough, deeply connected to our peaceful, tree-shaded town, but always with a sense of an unsolved mystery somewhere at the edges of the picture.

A middle child among the eight, I found the mystery tantalizing. I knew from an early age that my father had been some sort of hero. My third-grade schoolteacher said so; everybody said so. I hungered to know the heroic part of my dad. But try as I might, I could almost never get him to tell me about it.

John Bradley might have succeeded in taking his story to his grave had we not stumbled upon the cardboard boxes a few days after his death.

My mother and brothers Mark and Patrick were searching for my father's will in the apartment he had maintained as his private office. In a dark closet they discovered three heavy cardboard boxes. In those boxes my father had saved the many photos and documents that came his way as a flag raiser. All of us were surprised that he had saved anything at all.

Later I rummaged through the boxes. One letter caught my eye. The cancellation indicated it was mailed from Iwo Jima on February 26, 1945, written by my father to his folks just three days after the flag raising: "I'd give my left arm for a good shower and a clean shave, I have a 6 day beard. Haven't had any soap or water since I hit the beach. I never knew I could go without food, water or sleep for three days but I know now, it can be done."

And then, almost as an aside, he wrote: "You know all about our battle out here. I was with the victorious [Company E,] who reached the top of Mt. Suribachi first. I had a little to do with raising the American flag and it was the happiest moment of my life."

The "happiest moment" of his life? What a shock! If it made him so happy, why didn't he ever talk about it? Did something happen either on Iwo Jima or in the intervening years to cause his silence?

Over the next few weeks I found myself staring at the photo on my office wall, daydreaming. Who were those boys with their hands on that pole? Were they like my father? Had they known one another before that moment or were they strangers united by a common duty? Was the flag raising the "happiest moment" of each of their lives?

The quest to answer those questions consumed four years of my life and ended, symbolically, with my own pilgrimage to Iwo Jima.

Iwo Jima is a very small place to have hosted such a savage battle. Only eight square miles, the tiny island barely crests the seemingly infinite Pacific. The value of capturing this speck of land for the Americans was its location and its two airfields. The island provided a place for American planes to stop and refuel on crucial bombing missions to and from Japan.

Not many Americans make it to Iwo Jima these days. It is a dry wasteland of black volcanic ash that reeks of sulfur (the name means "sulfur island"). A closed Japanese naval base, it is inaccessible to civilians except for rare government-sanctioned visits.

It was the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles Krulak, who made the trip possible for me, my seventy-four-year-old mother, three of my brothers--Steve, Mark, and Joe--and many military men and women. One of first things we did on the island was to walk across the beach closest to Mount Suribachi, on the black volcanic sands. On their invasion maps the Marines had dubbed it "Green Beach," and it was across this killing field that young John Bradley, a Navy corpsman, raced under heavy fire. I watched as my mother made her way across that same beach, sinking to her ankles in the soft volcanic sand with each step. "I don't know how anyone survived!" she exclaimed.

Then it was time for our family to ascend the 550-foot volcanic crater that was Mount Suribachi. My twenty-one-year-old father had made the climb on foot carrying bandages and medical supplies; our party was whisked up in vans. I stood at its summit in a whipping wind that helped dry my tears. This was exactly where that American flag was raised on a February afternoon fifty-three years before. The wind had whipped on that day as well.

From the edge of the extinct volcanic crater, we could view the entire two-mile beach where the armada had discharged its boatloads of Marines. In February 1945 the Japanese could see it with equal clarity from the tunnels just beneath us. They waited patiently until the beach was crowded with American boys. They had spent many months positioning their gun sights. When the time came, they simply opened fire, beginning one of the great military slaughters of all history.

An oddly out-of-place feeling seized me: I was so glad to be there! The vista below us, despite the gory history, was invigorating. The sun and the wind seemed to bring all of us alive. At Suribachi you feel on top of the world, surrounded by ocean.

And then I realized that my high spirits were not so out of place at all. I was reliving something. I recalled the line from the letter my father wrote three days after the flag raising: "It was the happiest moment of my life."

We Bradleys then began to take pictures. We posed in various spots, including near the X that marks the spot of the actual raising. We had brought with us a plaque to personally commemorate the flag raising and our father's role in it. Joe gently placed the plaque in the dry soil.

IN MEMORY OF

JOHN H. BRADLEY

FLAG RAISER

2-23-45

FROM HIS FAMILY

I began to speak to the Marines who had gathered in front of our memorial.

I spoke first of the battle. It ground on over thirty-six days. It claimed 25,851 U.S. casualties, including nearly 7,000 dead. Most of the 22,000 defenders fought to their deaths.

It was America's most heroic battle. Two out of every three Americans who fought on this island were either killed or wounded. More medals for valor were awarded for action on Iwo Jima than in any battle in the history of the United States. To put that into perspective: The Marines were awarded eighty-four Medals of Honor in World War II. Over four years, that was twenty-two a year, about two a month. But in just one month of fighting on this island, they were awarded twenty-seven Medals of Honor, one-third of their accumulated total.

Next I showed the Marines the famous flag-raising photograph. I remarked that nearly everyone in the world recognizes it, but no one knows the boys.

I pointed to the figure in the middle of the image: solid, anchoring, with both hands clamped firmly on the rising pole. That's my father, I said. John Bradley was known to the other Marines in his company as "Doc" because he was a medical corpsman. He is the most identifiable of the six figures, the only one whose profile is visible.

I pointed next to a figure on the far side of John Bradley. Rene Gagnon, the handsome mill hand from New Hampshire, stood shoulder to shoulder with my dad in the photo, but he is mostly obscured by my father.

I gestured to the figure on the far right of the image, the leaning, thrusting soldier jamming the base of the pole into the hard Suribachi ground. His right shoulder is nearly level with his knee. His buttocks strain against his fatigues. This was Harlon Block, the athletic, independent-minded Texan. A star football player, he enlisted in the Marines along with all the seniors on his high school football team.

I pointed to the figure directly in back of my father: the boyish, freckle-faced Franklin Sousley, from Hilltop, Kentucky. He was fatherless at the age of nine and sailed for the Pacific on his nineteenth birthday.

Look closely at Franklin's hands, I asked the silent crowd in front of me. Do you see his right hand? Can you tell that the man in back of him has grasped Franklin's right hand and is helping Franklin push the heavy pole? The most boyish of the flag raisers, I said, is getting help from the most mature, Sergeant Mike Strank.

I pointed now to what can be seen of Mike. He is on the far side of Franklin. You can hardly see him. But his helping young Franklin was typical of him. He was respected as a great leader, a Marine's Marine. Finally I singled out the figure at the far left of the image--the figure stretching upward, his fingertips not quite reaching the pole. The Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes, I said. His hands couldn't quite grasp the pole.

Six boys. They form a representative picture of America in the thirties and forties: a mill worker from New England, a Kentucky tobacco farmer, a Pennsylvania coal miner's son, a Texan from the oil fields, a boy from Wisconsin's dairy land, and an Indian living on an Arizona reservation.

Only two of them walked off this island. A third was carried on a stretcher with shrapnel embedded in his side. Three were buried here.

Holy Land. Sacred ground.

TWO

All-American Boys

All wars are boyish, and are fought by boys --Herman Melville

I'm not a professional researcher, but I figured that if I could somehow dig deep enough, I might be able to learn something about these six boys, and especially about my silent father. I could not do this task alone. I would need other people, relatives and comrades of these six figures, to help me.

I began my research by buying a book about Iwo Jima and reading it. Then another. And another. I have since lost count.

I found names in those books--the names of the boys shoving that flagpole aloft.

Back in my office, I started to trace them. I phoned city halls and sheriff's offices in the towns where the flag raisers were born and asked for leads that would put me in touch with their relatives. I dialed the numbers, then waited through the rings for that first "Hello?" from a widow, sister, or brother of one of the boys whose hands had gripped the iron pole on Suribachi.

I widened my phone searches to include living veterans of Iwo Jima. I wanted their memories, too. Eventually I began to travel to the places where these people lived.

I wanted to know them as Marines, as fighting men who were also comrades. But I also wanted to know them as boys, ordinary kids before they became warriors.

What I found was that these six boys were very different from one another: the whooping young Texas cowboy; the watchful Indian; the happy-go-lucky Kentucky hillbilly; the serious Wisconsin small-towner; the handsome New Hampshire mill worker; the sturdy Czech immigrant.

And yet so similar.

They were nearly all poor. The Great Depression was a thread that ran through their lives. But then so did football, and religious faith, and strong mothers. So did younger siblings, and the responsibility of caring for them. And nearly all were described again and again as quiet, shy boys, yet boys whom people cared about.


From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

The Reality of War

Social studies classes study the world's wars and the impact war has on a global society. Students learn about ancient wars and the more modern wars that have been fought in the name of freedom. They know about the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World Wars I and II. Some students know about the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, and the Persian Gulf War. Before the events of September 11, 2001, students in America's schools knew little about the personal tragedies related to war. War was simply something that happened in books, in another time, and on foreign lands. Now, war surrounds them–on television, radio, and in film. Some know firsthand what it feels like to lose a parent to terrorists, and others wait eagerly in front of the television in hopes of gaining a glimpse of a family member or friend who may be in the Iraqi desert or on the streets of Baghdad. Like the main characters in the novels in this guide, the innocence of America's children has been marked by violence. A new page of history is being written every day, and it is being done before the eyes of the world's youngest citizens.

For this reason, it is extremely important that parents and teachers talk with children about war, and offer hope that the world might someday find a peaceful solution to global conflict. Sometimes it is difficult to find the words to explain the complex issues of war, but books are always a good way to spark understanding and conversation. This guide offers discussion for the following books: The Gadget by Paul Zindel; Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead; Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence; Flags of our Fathers by JamesBradley with Ron Powers, adapted for young people by Michael French; Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian; and For Freedom by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

Pre-Reading Activity
Engage students in a discussion about the recent war in Iraq, and how it was reported in the news. Divide the class into three groups, and assign each group one of the major newspapers or magazines to read. Ask that they read a few issues of the publications during the time of the war and take note of the major headlines, the views of the journalists, etc. Allow students time at the end of each week to share their findings. What conclusions can be drawn about the role of journalists in war?

1. Engage the class in a discussion about the meaning of patriotism. What is the relationship between duty and patriotism?

2. Private Tex Stanton, Second Platoon, Easy Company said, "Life was never regular again. We were changed from the day we put our feet in that sand." (p. 69) Discuss how the Battle of Iwo Jima changed the men who fought there. Compare and contrast how each of the six flag raisers were changed.

3. Discuss the qualities of a hero. Jack Bradley never viewed himself as a hero and felt that the real heroes of the Battle of Iwo Jima were the men who gave their lives. What role did the media play in making the six flag raisers heroes? How might these six men be considered symbols of all the heroic men who fought at Iwo Jima? In the book, James Bradley discusses the difference between a hero and a celebrity. How did President Roosevelt turn these heroes into celebrities?

4. Discuss the meaning of the inscription "Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue" that is on the face of the bronze statue of the six flag raisers that was unveiled at Arlington National Cemetery on November 10, 1954. The three surviving flag raisers attended the unveiling ceremony. James Bradley states that after that day, "Never again would they meet, never again would they serve the photograph." (p. 178) How had these men "served the photograph"? Discuss whether new generations who visit the bronze statue can fully understand the impact the photograph had on the American people when it was first published.

For more activities on Images of War, see these titles: For Freedom by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Lord of the Nutcracker by Iain Lawrence, Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead, Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers adapted for young people by Michael French, The Gadget by Paul Zindel, and Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian.

Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC.

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Flags of our Fathers

    This book retells the renowned story of the six flag raisers on Iwo Jima. They were six simple American boys who were trying to make a difference by fighting in WWII to defend their homes. When the boys were young they didn't know each other, but when heat of war began on Iwo Jima, they soon became brothers for the rest of their lives. They all knew each other and tried to watch over each other during battle. Throughout the book, you learn about all of the challenges that they faced and how they overcame. They grew up apart, but they became one and went down in history together. Throughout this book there is a lot of heartache, but all of the soldiers learn to overcome this pain through unity. Every single soldier learns from day one that everything is about unity. Nothing works as well if it is just an individual. The best success comes from working together and trusting the ones around you. Without your team mates you might end up dead and everyone knew that their brothers needed help just as much as they did. They could always count on each other and always trusted one another. The part that I liked most about this book was the heroic tales. The story of the flag rising on Iwo is a very popular story, but a lot of times you do not hear about what went on before these six boys had the chance to raise this flag. This battle was all about who had more guts and who was willing to go the farthest and sacrifice the most to achieve their goal. Young American men would throw their bodies on live grenades just to save lives. They all knew that the death of one was much better than the loss of twenty. Every single American was fighting for the same things and knew that they would do what they had to do in order to win the war. One thing I didn't like about this book was it was so long. You can't really change that though because you need all that information to be able to know what's going on. I also liked how much detail James Bradley put into this book. I felt like I was there and watching it happen. I couldn't imagine what those soldiers went through when they got home. Seeing that many soldiers die would be traumatic. I thought it was amazing that he got all this information by going around the country looking for people who knew the six flag raisers and then writing a book about it. I believe that someone could easily pick this book up and start reading it because it tells the storey that we all know about, but not in great detail, which is where this novel comes in to fill the gaps. When looking for a book along the same lines as Flags of our Fathers you can pick up Flyboys also written by James Bradley. I would give the book an overall 4.5 stars out of 5 solely because it can get long and dry, but quickly then makes up for it by bringing you back into the heat of battle.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Flags of our Fathers A tale of the greatest generation of American

    The memoir Flags of our Fathers, which spent 46 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list by James Bradley, was, in my opinion, a great book. It is not a regular memoir in, but it is a snapshot of an important part of the lives of the people involved. It was pieced together by the author using journals, diaries, pictures, records, and the accounts of eyewitnesses and family members. The Author is not actually part of the story, but the events and facts are true. The book was about the six flag raisers on Iwo-Jima made immortal by the famous photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal. The book tells the story of these inspirational men, and specifically John Bradley, the author's father.
    WWII was a war with many remarkable and savage battles, but few match the battle of
    Iwo-Jima. Iwo-Jima is an 8 square mile island controlled by Japan, when the U.S attacked, the Japanese fortified the island and swore not to give ground. The fighting conditions were terrible for the marines and morale was low, however, several U.S marines climbed mount Surabachi, a center point of Japanese resistance, and raised an American flag for all to see. The event was captured forever by Joe Rosenthal, who took a photo of the six men hoisting the flag together. The book tells the tale of each of these men's journey in the battle, as they experience the horrors of war in the pacific theater, the brutal part of WWII that took place in the sandy beaches and steaming jungles of the pacific islands, and how they deal with the brutality around them, as described by John Bradley talking about his friend, "The Japanese took him underground and tortured him.it something I've always tried to forget." Several of them simply could not deal with the sights they saw and the things they did, sinking into depression or become dependant on alcohol. Only one man lived a long, untroubled life, and that was by completely locking up the memories of that traumatic chapter of his life, never speaking of it or making public appearances after the war bond drives. This is part of the message of the book: War is a terrible thing, and it affects people very seriously. I would recommend this book to some seventh graders but not all due to the strong violent content.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2006

    Great Reading

    This is US History at it's best. This book is about true American's are made of. Nuff said!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2006

    Powerful, Hard To Put Down

    'Flags of Our Fathers' is one of the most moving novels I have ever read on the subject of World War Two. As a fan of European Theatre battles, I had no idea what I would get into when I bought this book. 'Flags of Our Fathers' touched me like no war novel has ever done. From the beginning chapters to the very end, I found myself glued to the book, finding it difficult to put down. James Bradley should be very proud and honored by the actions of his father and the many men who fought and died to keep this country free. I only wish that I had read this novel sooner.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    Glad to have read this book.

    Written by a son of one of the flagraisers and yet he did not glorify those 6. This book is true to the core.

    To all those who fight for our country, thank you for your bravery.

    Saepe Expertus. Semper Fidelis.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Review for Flags of our Fathers

    It was only a replacement flag, but became the flag in the most famous photograph in history. Flags of Our Fathers begins in 1998, when James Bradley, son of one of the flag-raisers, travels to Iwo Jima to post a memorial to his father, John Bradley. But where the story truly begins is on a cold February day in 1945. Two days after the Marines landed on Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, five Marines and one Navy Corpsman placed a replacement flag on top of Mt. Suribachi.
    The photographer, Joe Rosenthal, wasn't even sure he got the photograph. He wouldn't know for weeks because the film would need to be air-lifted to Hawaii for processing before it was sent back to the States. The photo itself was only of the replacement flag anyway. The commander of the Marine force had ordered the original flag replaced because the Secretary of the Navy wanted it. The commander felt it belonged to the Marines. What happened next would stun the flag-raisers who survived. Days later the photo would circulate the globe, announcing that the Marines had taken Iwo Jima even though the battle had barely begun. For a nation tired of war, this didn't matter. The photo gave them hope, a hope they desperately needed to continue the war. Only three of the flagraisers would survive the battle; three died within days of raising the new flag.

    Major Messages and Themes: It is also a very human story. It's a very personal story of how human beings learn to cope with the most horrific events imaginable. While one of these men seeks further fame for his role in the picture, the two remaining survivors struggle to return to "life as normal". Post Traumatic Stress Disorder wasn't a term these survivors knew. They struggled in silence to deal with horrors they couldn't understand.

    I liked the book in that it was a true story in what these men had to do for their country and how they had to go through all of the horrors that were on Iwo Jima, everyone who likes to learn about history or just want a good read should read this book to have a good reading experience. My overall rating i would say this book is a 9 out of 10.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    Abby

    I have never read it

    1 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    Flags of our Fathers

    This book retells the renowned story of the six flag raisers on Iwo Jima. They were six simple American boys who were trying to make a difference by fighting in WWII to defend their homes. When the boys were young they didn't know each other, but when heat of war began on Iwo Jima, they soon became brothers for the rest of their lives. They all knew each other and tried to watch over each other during battle. Throughout the book, you learn about all of the challenges that they faced and how they over came. They grew up apart, but they became one and went down in history together. Throughout this book there is a lot of heartache, but all of the soldiers learn to over come this pain through unity. Every single soldier learns form day one that everything is about unity. Nothing works as well if it is just an individual. The best success comes from working together and trusting the ones around you. Without your team mates you might end up dead and everyone knew that their brothers needed help just as much as they did. The could always count on each other and always trusted one another. The part that I liked most about this book was the heroic tales. The story of the flag raising on Iwo is a very popular story, but a lot of times you do not hear about what went on before these six boys had the chance to raise this flag. This battle was all about who had more guts and who was willing to go the farthest and sacrifice the most to achieve their goal. Young American men would throw their bodies on live grenades just to save lives. They all knew that the death of one was much better than the loss of twenty. Every single American was fighting for the same things and knew that they would do what they had to do in order to win the war. They would not let anyone or anything stand in their way. Personally I loved the book, but I did have one dislike. At points, the book was hard to follow. It seemed to jump around a lot and it was hard to get a grasp on when what they were talking about happened. All of the events were very thought catching, but it could be hard to understand if you were to get lost. I think this book is be very educational. For someone that is not completely sure about what happened on Iwo Jima, this book could help clear up anything that you are confused about. The only reason someone might not want to read this book is because of some of the gruesome depictions. Another book that is good and very closely related to this book is "Letters from Iwo Jima". This book tells the same story, but it is from the Japanese point of view. Overall I would give Flags of our Fathers a five star rating for its excellent ability to keep the reader interested.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2008

    Flags of Our Fathers is Amazing

    This story brings to life the truth of the flagraising on Iwo Jima. It tells the struggles of the six young men who were captured in a moment in time. How thier lifes seemed to be under the rule of this image that was sadly mistaken by the people of America. It shows how an action can be totally miscontrued by the viewers. Iliked this book because it shows the real stuggles of real people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2007

    A Flag and the Fighting men of this battle

    Having been born and raised in Wausau, Wisconsin I never knew we had such an outstanding man such as John Bradely living here. The book is not just about his life, the battle, and the aftermath but of a son's discovery of his father who he always saw as a great man. I would say this is a MUST READING for any one in Wisconsin. I can't begin to tell you how it has affected my life and outlook at the war in the pacific. And I also love historical movies/books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2014

    Note from the author of blood of Iwo jima

    Like this im starting a book at britian res one. Called sniper in berlin. It is about a german sniper in the battle of berlin.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2014

    Blood of Iwo Jima chapter two part one. Chas of war. First chapter is res 8

    They all jump out of the left side of the D.U.C.K. and sprint up the shoreline. They dive onto a sandbar littered with alive and de.ad american bodies. Barkley has a M1-Carbine, Tucker with a Thompson sub machinegun, Thompson with a Browning 30 cal. heavy machinegun, everyone else with M1-Grands. Bullets are fling in every direction. Spider holes and machine gun nests on the beach. Snipers from the left and right. Artillary positions in Mount Sarabachi. The american troops returning fire in all derictions. Barkley after his mag ran out grabbed a grenade from his belt and pulled the pin. Aiming for a machine gun nest he chucked the grenad but it hit the ground short but then it bounced striaght into the hole and all three of the machine gunners in side instantly stopped fireing. Wheeeeeeeeeee BOOM! A artuallary shell truck the groud barely missing its own Jap machine gun nest by 10 feet. "Cover me I'm going in that crater!" A man with a flamethrower shouts as he springs up and gets inti a all out sprint while bullets are wizzing past hime. Then he dives in and rolls on his back catching his breathe. "Barkley on the count of three we are going in that crater to help that guy out," Tucker ordered. "ONE!" They both change theor mags discarding their old ones. "TWO!" They get into a squat ready to spring up and sprint at three. "THREEEEEEEEE!" They shoot up and take off dumping their mags in no general direction. They div in roll on their backs and change their mags. "I'm Sargent Loius Tucker and that is Private First Class James Barkley,Tucker says. "Private First Class John Hartley," the man with the flamethrower says. "The only man left in my platoon the res are de.ad back there at that sand bar." Then Barkley notices a man with a flamethrower and three rifle men sprint in their direction. They got half way before the flamethrower man was struck in the che.ast with a machinegun bul.let and it wen straight through him and the gas tank blowing up the gas tank sending him and the ri.fle m.en into a b.all of fir.e. "Hey Hartley how about you use that flamethrower of yours to take out this machine gun nest above our heads." Tucker says. "I guess your right," Hartley said and they rolled up on their bellies. Then a machine gunner stopped fireing (to reload) and they all sprang up Barkley and Tucker surpressing fire while hartley is torching the nest no one but one Japaneese escaped the machinegun nest but that was only to be s.hot in the ba.ck amd fall down his cor.spe left burning. Then Barkley notices the first "Water Buffalo" hit the beach. It's machine guns spraying fire into the Japaneese machie gun nests with their machine guns. A water buffalo is a armoured vehiclle and landing craft with a open top. The water bullfalo has a 50 cal. and 30 cal browning heavy machineguns mounted on the top.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    I loved learning about Iwo Jima and the 6 Flag raisers

    I was alway curious aout the famous statue, photograph and act of these soldiers in WW II. It's well written (aside from the author slipping into 1st person now and then) and if you enjoy learning bout critical, historical events, this book won't dissapoint.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    BLUE FLAG

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014

    At first when I started reading Flags of our Fathers, it was so

    At first when I started reading Flags of our Fathers, it was somewhat difficult to get attached to the story line.
     However once I started learning about the real men behind the faces in the photograph, I really enjoyed it.  
    Some parts in the book were complicated to follow considering that the book is about six different men, and
    you have to figure out how to keep track of all six of them.  In addition, since this story is about war and battles,
    I had trouble keeping track of all of the captains, colonels, sergeants, lieutenants, etc.  I am personally not
    acquainted with these different titles as much, so it most likely depends on the level of interest and knowledge
     a reader has in that field.I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in history,
     particularly World War II.  Even though this book has some blood and gore, I think it is definitely worth the read.
     I would not necessarily recommend it to anyone below the eighth grade, just from the fact that it might be difficult
     for someone below that age to read and understand.  I also wouldn’t recommend it to a person below that age
     because the violence might be a little overwhelming.  I think this would be an appropriate book for high school
     students because it is very applicable to what we learn in world history.  For example, just this past unit in
    history we learned about World War II, including the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Guadalcanal, and
     The Battle of Iwo Jima.  All of these events were mentioned, and The Battle of Iwo Jima provided the setting for
     Flags of our Fathers.  I know some students would be resistant to reading a book required for school, however
     high school students that do have an interest in history and World War II would really enjoy it.  Although, when
     reading this book you have to be very diligent and pay close attention to details in order to follow the story line.
      Overall, I found Flags of our Fathers to be a very interesting and enjoyable book.  Despite the fact that it does
     have its flaws, as every book does, I thought it was well written and James Bradley accomplished his goal.  The
     six boys in this photograph are now known and “alive” to me.  After reading this book I now have an even
     stronger respect for all of the men and women that serve our country and sacrifice their lives for our freedom.
    Abbie M.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    Great book

    Got it for my husband for Christmas. He reads when he can & says so far he likes it. Can't wait for him to finish so I can check it out.

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

    Posted November 19, 2013

    Great history

    Full of drama and facts. All americans should read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013

    Flags of our of our fathers

    I am a wwll vet readlng many war books this is a great one

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  • Posted June 14, 2013

    Great Book, Gave the feeling of being there.

    Flags of our Fathers was well written, James a and Ron, nailed it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    The Japanese word ¿Iwo Jima¿ means ¿Sulfur Island¿ in English. T

    The Japanese word “Iwo Jima” means “Sulfur Island” in English. The island is known to the Japanese to have a sulfuric smell.
     In American culture, however, Iwo Jima is known for the decisive battle in the War of the Pacific. The memoir, Flags of our Fathers, written
     by James Bradley, is an intriguing book, as it relays a story not known to many that is behind a very famous picture. This book tells the
    story of the six men who raised the flag up on top of Mount Suribachi on the small island of Iwo Jima. Five of the young men were
    infantrymen for the United States Marine Corps, while the sixth was a Navy Corpsman, or battlefield medic. The six soldiers did not know
     each other until that one moment when the flag was snapped into position and Joe Rosenthal snapped the photograph. That photo
     became iconic and was the face of the Seventh Bond Tour. James Bradley uses strong vocabulary to relate the horrors of war to the
     average person. I enjoyed this book because it tells the story of an iconic American image. The book is carries no biases, even though
     the author’s father, John Bradley, was one of the flag raisers. The author tells the story of the flag raisers with gratitude and respect for all
     of those who gave their time and services, not just the ones who help raise a flag. The author uses emotion to help bring the cost of war
     home. This is a great book for adults and young adults, because the author uses a diverse vocabulary and a complex sentence structure.
     It would also be great for anyone who wants to learn more about the Battle of Iwo Jima.

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