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Bradley tells true tale of Iwo Jima

Flags of Our Fathers; by James Bradley; 353 pages; Bantam Books; $12.95

The photograph of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima during World War II is an image emblazoned in history textbooks everywhere. However, the true story behind it has remained curiously untold.

James Bradley, the son of John Bradley who was a member of the flag-raisers, recounts the true nature of the event as well as what preceded it and what followed. The result is a fact-based, historical best-seller that disputes the concept of heroism and uncommon valor.



Six men were represented in the photograph; each with a separate identity: the whooping young Texas cowboy, the watchful Arizona Indian on his reservation, the happy-go-lucky Kentucky hillbilly, the serious Wisconsin small-towner, the handsome New Hampshire smoothie and the sturdy Czech immigrant. And yet with a simple act they became united forever.

Their photograph epitomized the American Soldier. It became a national icon despite its fallacies, and they became heroes despite their protests.



“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 incarnate. It became everything except the salvation of the boys who formed it.”

Bradley breaks down his story into three parts: the history of the soldiers, the battle on Iwo Jima, and the aftermath.

His extensive research and intricately detailed result is extraordinary. Every action, thought, and emotion is re-created in his novel.

From quirky personality traits to grisly, visceral battle images, the impact is profound; readers do not simply read about the past, they experience it.

“Flags of Our Fathers” explores the controversial topics of heroism and uncommon valor among soldiers.

John Bradley resented being a status symbol and maintained that the “heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn’t come back.”

By chance, fate, or destiny, he and the others faced an inescapable future of honor and prestige.

Bradley delves into the dark side of this and the devastating affects it had on the men.

An extraordinary photograph immortalized the flag raisers of Iwo Jima. But it is Bradley who establishes reality and exposes the truth.

His book is an eloquent and respectful tribute to the soldiers who fought on that island.

It is a war document that extends past the battle lines to the emotional effects of loss, honor, death, and life.


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