Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers

by James Bradley, Ron Powers
4.5 321

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Overview

Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley, Ron Powers

In this unforgettable chronicle of perhaps the most famous moment in American military history, James Bradley has captured the glory, the triumph, the heartbreak, and the legacy of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima. Here is the true story behind the immortal photograph that has come to symbolize the courage and indomitable will of America.

In February 1945, American Marines plunged into the surf at Iwo Jima—and into history. Through a hail of machine-gun and mortar fire that left the beaches strewn with comrades, they battled to the island's highest peak. And after climbing through a landscape of hell itself, they raised a flag.

Now the son of one of the flagraisers has written a powerful account of six very different young men who came together in a moment that will live forever.

To his family, John Bradley never spoke of the photograph or the war. But after his death at age seventy, his family discovered closed boxes of letters and photos. In Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley draws on those documents to retrace the lives of his father and the men of Easy Company. Following these men's paths to Iwo Jima, James Bradley has written a classic story of the heroic battle for the Pacific's most crucial island—an island riddled with Japanese tunnels and 22,000 fanatic defenders who would fight to the last man.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the story is what happened after the victory. The men in the photo—three were killed during the battle—were proclaimed heroes and flown home, to become reluctant symbols. For two of them, the adulation was shattering. Only James Bradley's father truly survived, displaying nocopy 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553380293
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publication date: 10/02/2001
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.08(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.81(d)
Lexile: 950L (what's this?)

About 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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Flags of Our Fathers 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 321 reviews.
TylerMcCluskey More than 1 year ago
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.
AndrewR7A More than 1 year ago
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.
vcadiente18 More than 1 year ago
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.
swimmer02 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is US History at it's best. This book is about true American's are made of. Nuff said!
t_ferris More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 9 months ago
This book should be required reading for high school history class .
ljethrogibbs46 More than 1 year ago
This is the BEST book I've ever read on the Pacific War, and one of the best about WWII (and I have read a LOT of them).  It deserves 10 stars!  My dad knew & worked with another hero of Iwo Jima:  Hershel "Woody" Williams, the last living Medal of Honor winner from that battle.  I met him a couple of times.  Just like the men portrayed in this book, he was unassuming & respectful.  Recently he spoke to a group of soldiers shipping out for Afghanistan.  At one point he said, "I look forward to the day when a Medal of Honor will no longer be needed".  
JoeLopez97 More than 1 year ago
  James Bradley's, book Flags Of Our Fathers depicts six men who put up the American Flag on Iwo Jima and the significance of this event. Bradley assesses who these men were before the war, during the war, after the war, and how the photo of them (on the cover of the book) putting up the flag affected their lives.  Bradley develops a candid tone with his readers to capture who the men were; he almost makes you feel as if you were there with these men.    Bradley begins his book by going on a hunch and trying to figure out who these men were, including his dad, depicted in the photograph. After, rummaging through his dad boxes,  Bradley finds a letter his dad, John "Doc" Bradley, wrote to his parents from Iwo Jima. Upon, reading this letter Bradley discovers that his father's most joyous moment was when he had finally reached the top of the mountain. Bradley was in a shock because his father would never talk about Iwo Jima after he came back from the war. Bradley then starts wondering who the rest of the boys captured in the photo with his dad were. Bradley goes on a quest for four years to find out who these men were, before they were all set upon the horrendous journey of war. Bradley provides the reader with anecdotes of who they are and how they became who they are.    Bradley's purpose is to outline the idea that war affects everyone, from the men in it, to all the families, and the kids. It shows how John (the author's father)  never liked to talk about Iwo Jima because he claims that the real heroes stayed at Iwo Jima. And how Ira Hayes could never get a grip on life after the war and suffered from Post-traumatic stress syndrome. Or how 3 of the 6 boys died along with 26,000 Americans and 21,000 Japanese.         By the end of the book you'll fall in love with all 6 of the boys who helped raised the flag on Iwo Jima.  You'll feel like you were with them on the day they all landed on the beach. And you'll feel like a part of you dies. When Franklin, Mike and Harlon all die on the beach. 
BrianIndianFan More than 1 year ago
"It's funny what a picture can do." - Ira Hayes What happens when a man refuses to talk about his experiences in war? Well, it can lead those around him to seek out what happened by other means. Men who saw the unbridled horror of man's inhumanity to man can be excused for not wishing to discuss what they've experienced. However, those who love him want to know what his life in war was like, however brief the look. James Bradley (along with Ron Powers) has crafted a book that takes a look his father's experiences as one of the flag raisers on Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima. Along the way, we meet the other flag raisers - Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley and Mike Strank. We meet them as they grow up from the veritable slices of Americana through the war and afterwards, as the battle affected the remaining survivors. "Doc" Bradley was the last surviving flag raiser, dying in January 1994. At the beginning, the book takes on all the appearances of being a vanity project on the part of the author, discussing he and his family's discovery of his heretofore unknown Navy Cross medal. This leads the family to eventually end up on Iwo Jima and standing on Mount Suribachi and the laying of a monument on the site. Such a story would best be reserved for an afterward as it does not immediately bring the reader into the story and only reinforces to the reader that we are reading someone's therapy sessions in trying to understand their father and what he meant to them. After a desultory exposition about the Japanese culture and society during the 1920s and 1930s, the author finally hit his stride and the book manages to soar as storytelling. We finally see each flag raiser as he grows up and makes the decision to fight for his country. The stories of each member are deep and provide the color necessary to show them as real people, and not the props they ended up being, especially during the Seventh War Bond drive.  There are considerable words expended describing their training both in California and Hawaii in preparation for the invasion of "Island X". The many months of training served them well in the meat grinder of Iwo Jima. The force that landed there was fighting a Japanese army it could not see but was molded (in the perversion of the Bushido samurai ethic) into a soldier that would rather die at his own hand than surrender. These words are vital to understanding what was necessary for the American Marines to succeed, and what success meant in the larger scope of World War II. In the end, the flag raising itself as depicted by history is actually a second flag raising. Due to the desire of a colonel to see a bigger flag on Mount Suribachi, a slightly different cast of characters lifted the larger flag into position. This second raising caused no end of controversy and confusion among the Marines, the photographer, and a government looking for a symbol of hope among the carnage of Iwo Jima. After the war, Gagnon, Bradley and Hayes are recruited to work a bond tour and to lend "technical assistance" to the movie "The Sands of Iwo Jima" starring John Wayne. The three survivors attempt to carry on as best they could. Sadly, PTSD was not known in those days otherwise Ira Hayes would not have (hopefully) developed the drinking problem that led to his death. Gagnon - the youngest of the three and married to a gold-digging woman - always felt his fame would be his ticket out of the New Hampshire mills and into the life of luxury. And yet, John Bradley went and got his license in mortuary science, bought a funeral home, raised a family and went back to being Joe Everyman. PARENTAL NOTE: This book does describe war without varnish, as well as the torture and killing of Bradley's friend Ralph Ignatowski. For this reason, I would at least skim over the book before giving it to anyone under 16 to read.  BOTTOM LINE: This book takes you everywhere you need to go to understand the battle of Iwo Jima.
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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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Full of drama and facts. All americans should read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a wwll vet readlng many war books this is a great one