This book was a very interesting account of the men who were captured in the infamous Iwo Jima picture. I loved hearing their stories. The most moving part for me was the heightened realization of how they were just boys - young boys - with fathers and mothers and siblings and sometimes girlfriends. With a baby son of my own, this really hit home for me. Upon finishing the book, I found myself hugging him really really tightly and telling him how much I loved him and how I hoped he worked for peace (cheesy, I know). I was especially moved by how quickly Belle Block recognized her son Harlon in the photograph, and wouldn't budge in her conviction even when his face wasn't visible and when the US government thought it was someone else for years. Somehow, that made it all the more moving (and heart-wrenching) to me and evident that she knew him like I know my son.
That said, I did think the book moved a little slowly. There were a LOT of characters, and maybe this is because I listened to it on audio, but I had a bit of trouble keeping them straight for a while. There was some extraneous information, but for the most part, I loved how Bradley brought these men and their simple lives to light. I especially loved and cried for Ira's story - it's so very sad. My favorite parts were when Bradley characterized his own father - it was so personal and sweet. You could tell how he really did revere his father as a hero, but not in the least because of Iwo Jima. He respected and loved him for his kindness to everyone, loyalty, devotion, gentleness and humility. I thought Bradley's personal story of coming back from a study abroad in Japan and trying to stand up for the Japanese during WWII to his veteran father was telling - his father just nodded his head, didn't argue or disagree, but just moved on.
All in all, I really enjoyed learning more about these truly heroic men.