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Flags of Our Fathers Library Binding – August 1, 2006
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"Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)" by David Sedaris
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The Battle of Iwo Jima, fought in the winter of 1945 on a rocky island south of Japan, brought a ferocious slice of hell to earth: in a month's time, more than 22,000 Japanese soldiers would die defending a patch of ground a third the size of Manhattan, while nearly 26,000 Americans fell taking it from them. The battle was a turning point in the war in the Pacific, and it produced one of World War II's enduring images: a photograph of six soldiers raising an American flag on the flank of Mount Suribachi, the island's commanding high point.
One of those young Americans was John Bradley, a Navy corpsman who a few days before had braved enemy mortar and machine-gun fire to administer first aid to a wounded Marine and then drag him to safety. For this act of heroism Bradley would receive the Navy Cross, an award second only to the Medal of Honor.
Bradley, who died in 1994, never mentioned his feat to his family. Only after his death did Bradley's son James begin to piece together the facts of his father's heroism, which was but one of countless acts of sacrifice made by the young men who fought at Iwo Jima. Flags of Our Fathers recounts the sometimes tragic life stories of the six men who raised the flag that February day--one an Arizona Indian who would die following an alcohol-soaked brawl, another a Kentucky hillbilly, still another a Pennsylvania steel-mill worker--and who became reluctant heroes in the bargain. A strongly felt and well-written entry in a spate of recent books on World War II, Flags gives a you-are-there depiction of that conflict's horrible arenas--and a moving homage to the men whom fate brought there. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers 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 islandAthe 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
With a good narrative, the book's author, son of one of the soldiers who appear in the photograph, through a multi-year research, reconstructs the life and feelings (and violent death in 3 cases) of each of the actors (flag raisers) in the photo and their families and the incredible reaction of American society. It evolved into the most well-known image of their culture and their protagonists were honored as the biggest heroes of the war.
As described and narrated, the main thought that I developed after reading it, is to understand how an image can generate a complete history of an event (good or bad but permanent, depending on who the interpreter is), mobilize the whole community in mystification of characters (in this case, and as they themselves put it honestly, was the only action that did not really represent both the heroism and sacrifice delivered in other instances during the 35 days of battle) and can be used to any purpose (promoting a message, create a commercial campaign or even use it for purposes contrary to those active participants had wanted to show).
Definitely a good photograph and a smart strategy to show can influence significantly and permanently to a particular society and popular culture that receives it.
Es un muy buen relato sobre un evento que causó alto impacto en la segunda guerra mundial y en particular en la población norteamericana dada la famosa fotografía de la izada de la bandera en el monte Surubachi de la isla de Iwo Jima y que fue el escenario de la batalla mas violenta de esa conflagración. Con una buena narrativa, el autor del libro, hijo de uno de los soldados que aparecen en la fotografia, a traves de una investigación de varios años reconstruye la vida y los sentimientos (y la muerte violenta en 3 de los casos) de cada uno de los actores de la foto y sus familias (flagraisers), así como la increible reacción de la sociedad americana que la convirtió en un emblema de su cultura y a sus protagonistas en grandes figuras de la sociedad.
Por lo descrito y lo narrado, la principal reflexión que me quedó de su lectura, es entender cómo una imagen puede generar una historia completa de un acontecimiento ( buena o mala, según quien la interprete, pero permanente), movilizar a todo una comunidad en la mistificación de unos personajes ( que en este caso particular, y según ellos mismos lo expresaron honestamente, fue la única acción que realmente no representó tanto heroísmo y sacrificio al entregado en otras instancias en los 35 dias de batalla) y que puede ser utilizada para cualquier propósito ( promover un mensaje, generar una campaña comercial o inclusive usarla para propósitos contrarios a los que sus participantes activos hubieran querido mostrar).
Definitivamente, una buena fotografía y una estrategia inteligente para mostrarla pueden influenciar de manera significativa y permanente a una sociedad y en particular a la cultura popular que la recibe.
That said, even with the help of an experienced co-author, the book was over-written, given to repetition and some periods of (perhaps understandable, while none-the-less undesirable) self-aggrandizement of the family. More importantly, some of the most insightful aspects of the story seemed to be deliberately held back. In a nutshell, while the author maintained over and over again that his flag raising father never had anything to say about the battle, eventually, drip-by-drip, we are given information that gives a true indication of the heartbreak his father endured.
The book is definitely worth reading, but it could have been much better.