Sunday, October 23, 2005

Flyboys : A True Story of Courage

FLYBOYS is the most compelling and involving book I have read in quite some time. James Bradley follows his best-selling Flags of Our Fathers with this comprehensive Pacific War-themed history.

The focus is primarily on a small group of men: nine American Navy and Marine aviators who were shot down off the Japanese-held island of Chichi Jima in February 1945, and their respective Japanese captors and executioners.

In the process, Bradley not only gives a masterful history of the Pacific War, but he traces the history of the cultures of the two opposing countries that led to the racial attitudes which both sides brought to the war. He documents the cold blooded atrocities committed by the American and Japanese military forces against millions of non-combatant civilians as well as captured combatants.

There is much about the United States incursion into Tokyo Bay in 1853 and Japan’s Pacific islands that I knew little about, and I daresay that many America Firstists either don’t know about or don’t want to know about. But the seeds of WWII were planted there and were fertilized by human blood in the battles to come.

As with any meaningful history, FLYBOYS is a capsule biography of the participant people. Bradley defines these people with recognizable, rich, dreadful and poignant characteristics. His writing style is lean, clean, unaffected but affecting, without ever draping his subject with verbal embellishments or melodramatic flourishes. Yet, if you can finish the book with dry eyes, please let me know.

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