Flyboys by James Bradley

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana
It took me about four months to read through this (which is a really long time for me). It is so sickening, heart-breaking, and revolting; yet it is such an eye-opening, vital read for this generation.
There truly is nothing to ‘like’ about this book (excepting, maybe, the fact that someone actually took the time to uncover the truth). Flyboys’ main subject is about eight young men (whom Bradley calls flyboys) who were brutally murdered on the island of Chichi Jima (near Iwo Jima) during World War Two. But he also talks of the atrocities of war on both sides (USA and Japanese).
This book isn’t for the faint of heart at all (especially if you have a vivid imagination). It shows you everything that truly happened, from bayoneting to rape to cannibalism. Sometimes I could only read one page a day, trying to digest the knowledge without throwing up (I’m being literal).
It gave a brief history of Japan and their way of living and sense of honor, which I found quite interesting.
You also shouldn’t read this if you are easily angered. You will become livid at the outrageous war crimes that were simply dismissed, and the torture so many men and women were put through.
Bradley explained in great detail how the napalm bombs are made and what they do. Then you read the testimonies of those who lived there in Japan when it was bombed.
I know the people there were warned to flee and the bombings saved countless lives in the long run. But it makes you wish that they would have done something else if possible.
The relatives of the eight flyboys were never told the truth regarding their boys. The Government told them over and over that they were MIA, thinking it would hurt too much if they knew the truth. If it were me though, I would rather know the truth than live with a false hope.
To be honest, before I read Flyboys I never really thought about the Japanese and how they thought and felt about the war. This book gives you their perspective in their own words. In some ways it was as though the war was really only between the generals/top men. The rest were just forced into it. Not that I’m saying wars shouldn’t be fought (if that were the case, there would be no United States of America), but that the people should be able to know what they’re fighting for. Which, unfortunately, wasn’t much of an option for the Japanese.
The reason this book is so vital to today’s generation is that it teaches them true history, without which it will most certainly repeat itself. So many of the younger Americans have no respect for the men and women who fought and sometimes died to protect our freedom. In the words of Ronald Reagan:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
To end this review I must add that you’ll need to keep a black marker handy (as there are several unnecessary words).
I give it five books. Four for the story itself and the eight unselfish, heroic boys who gave their lives for our freedom, and one for the author who went to such great lengths to tell it to the world.

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