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Flyboys: A True Story of Courageby James Bradley
Synopses & Reviews
James Bradley's #1 bestseller Flags of Our Fathers made real the humanity and legacy of war as few books had before. Now, in Flyboys, Bradley returns to World War II and an extraordinary — and totally unknown — true story of courage.
Over the remote Pacific island of Chichi Jima, nine American flyers — Navy and Marine pilots sent to bomb Japanese communications towers there — were shot down. One of those nine was miraculously rescued by a U.S. Navy submarine. The others were captured by Japanese soldiers on Chichi Jima and held prisoner.
Then they disappeared.
When the war was over, the American government, along with the Japanese, covered up everything that had happened on Chichi Jima. The records of a top-secret military tribunal were sealed, the lives of the eight Flyboys were erased, and the parents, brothers, sisters, and sweethearts they left behind were left to wonder.
Flyboys reveals for the first time ever the extraordinary story of those men. Bradley's quest for the truth took him from dusty attics in American small towns, to untapped government archives containing classified documents, to the heart of Japan, and finally to Chichi Jima itself. What he discovered was a mystery that dated back far before World War II — back 150 years, to America's westward expansion and Japan's first confrontation with the western world.
Bradley brings into vivid focus these brave young men who went to war for their country, and through their lives he also tells the larger story of two nations in a hellish war. With no easy moralizing, Bradley presents history in all its savage complexity, including the Japanese warrior mentality that fostered inhuman brutality and the U.S. military strategy that justified attacks on millions of civilians. And, after almost sixty years of mystery, Bradley finally reveals the fate of the eight American Flyboys, all of whom would ultimately face a moment and a decision that few of us can even imagine.
Flyboys is a story of war and horror but also of friendship and honor. It is about how we die, and how we live — including the tale of the Flyboy who escaped capture, a young Navy pilot named George H. W. Bush who would one day become president of the United States. A masterpiece of historical narrative, Flyboys will change forever our understanding of the Pacific war and the very things we fight for.
"In Flyboys, James Bradley combines his tenacious detective skills with his gifts as a master storyteller to produce a tragic epic of two empires. I wept not only for the American pilots, but for all the millions of people who died needlessly in the Pacific war." Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking and The Chinese in America
"A powerful, compelling look at a tragic time in our history." W. E. B. Griffin, author of the Badge of Honor series
"James Bradley has once again given us the human face of a war we thought we knew, and in doing so has forced us not only to rethink our history but, far more important, to re-feel it. Flyboys is a triumph of careful listening, of far-flung reportage, and, most of all, of thoroughgoing empathy." Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers
"Some readers' hackles will rise at the discussion of the guilt of both sides, but, despite some missteps, Bradley attempts to strike an informed balance with the perspective of more than half a century." Publishers Weekly
"There are many brutally graphic passages about the torture and slaying of the American prisoners, which may prove too daunting for some readers, but Bradley succeeds in restoring dignity to the American airmen." Booklist
"An episodic account of a little-covered arena in the much-covered genre of WWII: close air combat in the war against Japan." Kirkus Reviews
From the author of the bestseller Flags of Our Fathers comes a never-before-told tale of courage, the remarkable true story of seven World War II fighter pilots known as the Flyboys who were shot down in the South Pacific.
Now in paperback comes "the momentous tale of the Pacific war, told through dramatic, poignant, and unforgettable stories of nine heroic Americans" (Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors).
About the Author
James Bradley is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Flags of Our Fathers and the son of one of the men who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. The story of the events on Chichi Jima was first brought to his attention after the publication of that book and involved several years of research, travel, and writing — including a return trip to Chichi Jima with President George H. W. Bush. This is Bradley's second book. He lives in New York.
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