Steven Monroy's Reviews > Flyboys: A True Story of Courage

Flyboys by James D. Bradley
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Jun 02, 10

bookshelves: audio-books, history
Read in May, 2010

Flyboys tells the story of the Pacific Front of World War II from the human perspective. Bradley used thousands of hours of interviews with American and Japanese veterans and civilians to piece together the last years of the young Navy Pilots who died on or around a Japanese fortress island.

The book shows how the naive emotions and beliefs of both countries led to one of the most destructive wars in human history. The Japanese soldiers and civilians were betrayed by their stubborn leadership, and by the their cultural belief in infallible leadership. They willingly fought to their deaths, rather than surrender or retreat, costing the lives of tens of thousands on either side.

Yet, the American's were not without their own sins. The devastation brought about the Atomic booms dropped on Japanese Cities are , rightly, among the most notorious events in the history of the War. Yet, months before, American bombers caused equal devastation when they firebombed the capital city of Tokyo. Even in the face of Japanese atrocities in China, the Philippines and Pear Harbor, there is no justification for the willing murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the own homes. I appreciated that the book did not fail to present this key feature of the air war; where the bombs fall.

Bradley did a terrific job researching the minutia of the pilots lives; their reasons for enlisting, their change from teenage boys to airmen and their ongoing struggle for their own lives.

I was particularly touched by President H. W. Bush's return to the island where he once almost lost his life. That he arrived with a Japanese veteran who served on the opposite side brought a certain amount of closure to the story.

As with any history book, the value is not in knowing the outcome of the story, but in drawing lessons from it. In the end, the Japanese and american young men who fought and died were not so different. Though they enlisted to serve their country, they fought for their comrades.
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