Flags of Our Fathers by James D. BradleyIn 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 islands 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 mens paths to Iwo Jima, James Bradley has written a classic story of the heroic battle for the Pacifics 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 Bradleys 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 didnt 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.
Author of 'Flags of Our Fathers' Now Suspects His Dad Was Not in Iwo Jima Photo
It is based on the book of the same name written by James Bradley and Ron Powers about the Battle of Iwo Jima , the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who were involved in raising the flag on Iwo Jima , and the aftereffects of that event on their lives. Until June 23, , Bradley's father John Bradley , Navy corpsman, was misidentified as being one of the figures who raised the second flag, and incorrectly depicted on the memorial as the third bronze statue from the base of the flagstaff with the foot 9. The film is taken from the American viewpoint of the Battle of Iwo Jima, while its companion film, Letters from Iwo Jima , which Eastwood also directed, is from the Japanese viewpoint of the battle. Although a box office bomb, only grossing The Navy bombards suspected Japanese positions for three days. Sergeant Mike Strank is put in charge of Second Platoon.
Actually, it does a lot more than that. The first kind of predation is blatant and easily understood, even if it means a country is ready to pay a high price in order to achieve a worthy goal. The other type is more subtle: It is not measured in corpses, it does not take place on the battlefield and it blurs the borderline that separates good and evil. In that respect, war can compromise the moral rectitude even of those who fight for the good cause. The picture taken by an Associated Press photographer who has no inkling of the events that will be triggered by his camera is quickly seized upon by the American establishment and becomes a powerful propaganda tool at home. The three surviving raisers of the flag are enlisted as the patriotic symbols of a war-bond drive the government conducts in order to continue to fund its efforts.
Sergeant Mike Strank went ashore with the first assault on the Japanese-held island of Bougainville on November 1, By the time he returned home on furlough to the steelmaking community of Franklin Borough, Pennsylvania, in February , Strank was a changed man. He died during the bloody battle to take the Pacific island of Iwo Jima. On February 24, , fragments from an exploding shell—probably from a US destroyer—ripped through his chest. Strank died without knowing he would become an American icon. Marines had put up a smaller flag hours earlier, but Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal was on the scene with his camera ready for the second flag-raising. The image became the most famous photograph of World War II and the most reproduced photographic image in world history.
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The photograph was first published in Sunday newspapers on February 25, It was extremely popular and was reprinted in thousands of publications.
But while the image has become a symbol of the sacrifices of American troops, the Marine Corps has also had to defend it for 70 years against accusations that it was staged and that some of the men were misidentified. Now, the man who wrote the best-selling book, which chronicled how his father and five Marines came together to lift the flag in the famous photograph, has raised new doubts about the image, saying that he now believes his father is not actually in it. The author, James Bradley, revealed his conclusion in an interview on Tuesday, just days after the Marine Corps said that it had opened an inquiry into whether the identifications in the photograph were correct. He said that his father, John, a Navy corpsman, had participated in raising a flag on Iwo Jima on Feb. His father, he said, probably thought that the first flag-raising was the one that was captured in the famous picture taken by Joe Rosenthal, a photographer for The Associated Press. Bradley said he had become convinced that his father was not in the photograph after studying evidence that was published in a article in The Omaha World-Herald, which described doubts raised by amateur historians who compared that photograph to images of the first flag-raising.
With him were two other photographers: Sgt. Bill Genaust who had a movie camera with a few remaining feet of unused film and Pfc. Bob Campbell. By the time the three reporters reached their destination , Mike Strank was already at work. Perhaps, Joe thought, he would get a flag-raising picture after all. Strank asked for his help as Bradley passed by, arms full of bandages.