Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley

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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 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

About James Bradley

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James Bradley is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Flyboys and Flags of Our Fathers and the son of one of the men who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. He lives in New York.
Published August 29, 2006 by Bantam. 576 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Flags of Our Fathers

The Guardian

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Extras on the four-disc collectors' edition shed additional light on Clint Eastwood's unique attempt to see both sides of a story in a double-header of films relating to the second world war conflict.

Jul 13 2007 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers

Publishers Weekly

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Newly adapted from a bestseller for adults, Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima by James Bradley with Ron Powers, adapted by Michael French, focuses on one of the most famous of war photographs: the image of six marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima.

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

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BC Books

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Nov 29 2006 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers

BC Books

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It was only a replacement flag, but became the flag in the most famous photograph in history.

Oct 14 2006 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers

Spirituality & Practice

The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II on the Pacific front.

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NO image is more representative of American triumph than Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's image of the second raising of the American flag atop Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945.

Aug 11 2001 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers

New York Magazine

From moms who undermine us to dads who lift us up: Flags of Our Fathers, directed by Clint Eastwood from the best seller by James Bradley (with Ron Powers), is a wrenching elegy to the “greatest generation”—a film with enough breadth and spectacle and poetry to transcend some clunky storytelling.

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(CNN) -- Clint Eastwood was 14 when Battle of Iwo Jima took place in 1945, old enough to know how Joe Rosenthal's famous picture vouched for victory and -- with a little help from John Wayne's "Sands of Iwo Jima" -- endowed the Marine Corps with a mythic luster that persists to this day.

Oct 20 2006 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers

Slant Magazine

As the faces of its subjects were obscured, Rosenthal's picture became a vision of national—rather than individual—victory, though for medic John "Doc" Bradley (Ryan Phillippe) and soldiers Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford) and Ira Hayes (Adam Beach), the snapshot became a one-way ticket to unwanted c...

Oct 17 2006 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers

World War II Database

To compile their life stories, he visited many who had known these six men, and the end result was a book that gave the readers an inside look at their lives before, during, and after the battle.

Sep 22 2006 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers


Shortly after, a larger flag is sent up and, in an event only shown in the film considerably later, six different men, Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes among them, responding to a photographer's half-joking question of, "O.K., guys, who wants to be famous?," put their muscle behind pushing up the new fl...

Oct 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers

Pacific Wrecks

Co-author James Bradley is the son of Iwo Jima flag Raiser, John Bradley.

Nov 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Flags of Our Fathers

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