Arminian Today

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Book Review: Flyboys by James Bradley

I greatly enjoyed James Bradley’s first book, Flag of our Fathers, as he traced the story behind the famous (or infamous) picture from Iwo Jima that his own father, James Bradley, had helped raised.  Bradley did a great job of showing how the flag raising was not a big event to the Marines fighting on Iwo Jima, that his own father didn’t comment on the subject but a few times following WWII, and that the flag raisers had a hard time being called “heroes” by the American public.  The story was later turned into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood under the same title.

This book, Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, tells the story of six American flyboys captured during WWII by Japanese soldiers in a remote island called Chichi Jima.  Along the way Bradley tells the story of many other flyboys including future American President, George H.W. Bush, who was shot down in the harbor of Chichi Jima.  Bradley tells the story of the flyboys because it was the flyboys who won the war over Japan.  Following the Battle of Midway, the Americans turned their sights on the Japanese homeland.  American bombers rained down fire from the heavens over cities such as Tokyo.  It was the flyboys who delivered the first atomic bombs over Japan and helped seal the deal for the Japanese to accept their unconditional surrender.  However, along the way the United States lost thousands of planes and thousands of men over the Pacific.  While Chichi Jima is but a speck on the world map, during WWII, it was a pivotal place for American planes to bomb.  

Bradley does a good job in presenting the stories of the six flyboys.  He does as he did in Flag of our Fathers and tells some of their back stories.  He also tells what happens to many of the flyboys following the War.  He also tells what happens to the Japanese on Chichi Jima following the War.  Two points about this book.  First, Bradley, at times, can come across as painting the Americans as hypocritical in their dealings with Japan and Germany.  For example, Bradley points out that President Roosevelt condemned the Japanese for their bombing of citizens in China or in the Philippines yet the Americans had no trouble bombing the cities of Japan or Germany.  He points out that the Americans condemned the Germans for their bombing of London but had no problems with bombing Berlin.  Roosevelt condemned the Japanese for targeting citizens while fighting but had no trouble with his own pilots dropping fire bombs over hospitals or schools in Japan that clearly were not military targets.  Secondly, Bradley builds a strong case for the use of the atomic bomb against Japan.  He points out that the Japanese themselves praised the Americans for using the bomb despite the heavy losses of life because in the end it ended the war and brought Japan to her knees.  Untold millions would have been killed on both sides had the War continued in Japan.  Plus the Japanese military leaders had no plan to surrender until Emperor Hirohito announced his decision to end the war by accepting the Potsdam Agreement as laid out by the Allies near the end of Germany’s war.

Overall this is a solid book.  Well written and well told.  It will make you sick at times to read of the atrocities done by the Japanese who were all but abandoned by their leaders on their islands throughout the Pacific.  They turned inhuman in their own struggles to survive.  The flyboys often found themselves the victims not of men fighting a war for Japan but men fighting to survive.  The story of the flyboys truly is a story of courage in the face of much danger.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/28/2013 at 6:36 PM

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