Tamra's Reviews > Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers by James D. Bradley
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's review
Jun 04, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: couldn-t-finish, book-club
Recommended to Tamra by: Amy
Recommended for: WWII buffs
Read from May 29 to June 04, 2010 , read count: 1

Book club book.

Bradley is a journalist, so I have to trust that he can write. But this book came off, to me, as way too dramatic. With war, and with a photo like that (the Iwo Jima flag raising photo), 2 already dramatic topics, he could have downplayed the drama a little. And by a little I mean a lot.

Allow me to re-phrase his intro, how it came across to me: "There we were, re-visiting the island where so many Americans died: Iwo Jima. Cue dramatic music. We stood on that fateful mountain, we, the relatives of the men involved in the glorious, horrific battle. We stood in silence, trying to fathom the immensity of it all. The ramifications of war. The men who died. The men who lived. And then I gave a speech and we all wept. A lot. Huge tears streamed down our faces, creating a pool of water around us so deep that we had to swim our way out."

Clearly I am simply not patriotic enough.

I was polite and read about each of the flag raiser's pre-war days. I tried hard to not roll my eyes at statements like (and these are actual quotes), "Mike Strank's right hand [that is visible in The Photograph:] tells me everything I need to know [about him:]." And "Sit and look at the photo for an hour, an afternoon, a day. Sit quietly with Ira's not addressing you. Then you know the utter silence that was Ira Hayes." ... It's a photograph. A PHO-TO-graph. You know, ... Oh, never mind.

And then I skipped ahead 150 pages to the chapter about raising the flag and finished the book from there to the end (pretty much). I skipped a lot of the war stuff, which I think works better, because the men themselves didn't talk about the battle. Not that war shouldn't be discussed, but these men didn't want to talk about it. I feel like I've honored their memory by skipping over the stuff that gave them nightmares for the next 60 years.

Altogether, I think this book had an interesting premise--reluctant heroes, a chance photograph, and how it changed the world and these men's lives--but it didn't get put together well. The characters he created were some of the most 1-dimensional characters I've ever seen, and that's sad because they were REAL PEOPLE.

My verdict: Skip this book. But read the synopsis: fascinating stuff in there.

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Reading Progress

06/04/2010 page 50

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