Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Flags of Our Fathers

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Flags of Our Fathers

Article excerpt

Bradley, James, with Ron Powers. Flags of Our Fathers. New York: Bantam, 2000. 353pp. $24.95

On the northern perimeter of the Arlington National Cemetery, clearly visible from the adjacent highway, stands a huge bronze monument embodying perhaps the world's most famous war photograph: the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi during the seizure of Iwo Jima in February 1945. Flags of Our Fathers, told by the son of one of the men represented by the figures, is an intensely personal history surrounding this event, a riveting story guaranteed to evoke emotion in any reader interested in what Tom Brokaw has called "the greatest generation."

Although Bradley is neither a strategist nor a military historian, he understands the significance of Iwo Jima and places it properly in the context of World War II. This is not revisionist historiography. Bradley solidly affirms Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb to save American-and Japanese-lives, because the alternative would have been even more horrific. The author's depiction of the training regimen, camaraderie, and exploits of the U.S. Marine Corps will make all Marines proud. However, he is not so kind to other services, often portraying them as weak willed, unprofessional, even incompetent.

James Bradley is the son of John "Doc" Bradley, a Navy corpsman who joined five Marine brothers-in-arms during the Herculean struggle to wrest "Sulfur Island" from the Japanese. …

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