[February 18, 2018] Clint Eastwood once said that “The guys who won World War II and that whole generation have disappeared, and now we have a bunch of teenage twits.” As documented in James Bradley’s popular Flags of Our Fathers (2000), Eastwood’s reference to the greatest generation was as much out of respect for their great accomplishments as it was for his respect for them. Personally, I never heard a disparaging word about this generation once the war began. Their bravery, guts, and strength has been documented many times over. Today, I will be reviewing James Bradley’s Flyboys.
Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, James Bradley, 2003
This book, a follow-on to Flags of Our Fathers, differs in many ways; one of which is an attempt at moralizing parts of the war that was conducted in the Pacific against the Japanese. While the book is not new, personally I had not heard of it until recently a friend brought it to my attention. The book receives many high marks but also a considerable number of negative reviews. Why? The reason so many dislike the book is Bradley’s attempt at making the WWII Japanese war-fighting equivalent to the Allied effort.
“Researching this book was often a disorienting experience. Early on, I thought I knew where justice lay. But as I listened to stories in Japan and America, I wasn’t so sure.” – James Bradley, Flyboys, page 331
This moral relativism (some call it Bradley’s anti-Americanism) doesn’t sit well with many, including myself. Yet, what I liked about the book (and I like a lot about it) is that Bradley explains why the Japanese military fought the way they did and also more on the underlying causes of the war. This was well done and includes a level of detail that was worthwhile reading. It was distracting to read Bradley’s unnecessary and out-of-place telling of how “white Christians” treated the American Indians and blacks.. Bradley also heavily alludes to the moral equivalency of the American and Japanese armies and political systems. This distracted from an otherwise good book.
I do recommend the book. Make your own opinion about it. The book held my attention throughout.
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