10 March 2011
Book Review of Flags of our Fathers:
Flags of Our Fathers is a biography of John “Doc” Bradley, also called Jack, and the five other flag raisers in battle on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II. It is written by his son, James Bradley, who knew very little about his father’s experience and heroism in the battle of Iwo Jima. This novel takes the reader into the lives of these six men and provides a glimpse of the United States as it was before, during and after what is perceived as the worst battle of World War II. The men in this biography were considered heroes for their actions; however none of them thought this to be completely true. When asked about being such a hero John as well as the other flag raisers agreed that “The heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn’t come back,” (pg.343). This biography is a wonderful representation of the humility and greatness that the soldiers showed during the time of war. The author portrays his message to the reader through his use of a personal recollection of the battle, and the events in the lives of each of the six men who came to be known as the flag raisers.
At the beginning of the book, the writing is like that of any other novel, slow in some places but interesting due to the personal twist that James Bradley incorporates throughout the pages. After much research and prying onto the lives of the six men, he tells each of their stories as to how they came to enlist and go to war for their country, With each man, a different story leading up to his decision to enlist in the United States Marines (with the exception of Doc who was a Navy Corpsman) is told through the perspective of a man who was almost unaffected by Iwo Jima, due to the fact he knew very little about the battle that went on in that small island of Japan.
The author is able to give the reader very detailed images of the lives of the six men before their decision to enlist in the Military due to his research of the lives of these men. Taking a personal interest in each personal story helps Bradley develop the style of writing that he wants to portray to his readers. When telling the story of each man as just a young boy wanting to join the military and fight for the freedom of his country, Bradley uses his language in order to paint a picture of an ordinary young boy in the United States, connecting the reader on a more personal level, as well as a factual one. He tells of the attitude and personality traits of each of the young men before they go off to war, and of their excitement to fight for their country even at ages as young as fifteen.
Bradley’s intention of writing this novel does not seem to be just the personal story of these six men, but rather how the diversity of the six men make up the American experience for each of the individuals in what may be the single most important and captivating picture ever taken in American history. The novel focuses on how different each of the flag raisers’ lives were before their decision as well as how different their journeys were leading up to the time when they all come together to work as one, fighting for a common virtue. “Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue,” (pg. 327) inscribed on the monumental statue of the six men, explains that even though the men have very different lifestyles and personalities, the uncommon valor of Iwo Jima brought them together more than what can be seen by those who were not there at the time of this blood ridden battlefield.
Bradley uses very explicit detail when explaining the battles and the deaths and injuries that came from the island, in hopes of getting the readers to grasp the intensity of what actually happened on the island, rather than knowing it as just a famous battle.
Throughout the novel, Bradley emphasizes the roles of each of the men’s mothers. He does this by telling the mothers’ opinions on each of the boys’ decisions as well as...