Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cannonball Read 2 #52: Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley

Whoohoo! I managed to complete the Cannonball Read goal this year with two whole months to spare! (I actually probably would have finished sooner, but I haven't been as good about blogging as I could have been. I'll get around to writing those blogs eventually.) Even though I wasn't chosen to actually compete in CR2, I'm proud of myself that I managed to do 52 books in one year. Since I started my first Cannonball Read way back in December 2008, I feel like I've done an incredible amount of reading for pleasure -- something I had let fall by the wayside in college. Anyway, I want to take this moment to thank all the little people (ha ha) who helped me get where I am...my faithful readers, including fellow Cannonballers Jen, Mike, Figgy, and Doc Spender. It's not easy to keep up something like this without the encouragement of being part of a group. And thanks to my other readers, who read my (often bizarre) ramblings purely out of friendship.

Anyway, on to book #52! Flags of Our Fathers was written by James Bradley, whose father John "Doc" Bradley was a Navy corpsman in the Pacific theater of WWII, and one of the men in the iconic photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima. Doc always tried to avoid the publicity that came with being a part of that photograph, and in tried to forget everything that happened during his military service. After his death, his son James went in search of the story behind that photo and how it had impacted his father's life. He also sought answers about the other men involved -- who were they, why were they there, and what had become of them?

The book traces all of the "flag-raisers" from childhood, to the Marines, to Iwo Jima, and beyond. Of the six, three were killed on the island, one was destroyed by everything he experienced in the Pacific and died in an alcoholic accident ten years later, one lived a life of disappointment, always trying to recapture the fame he'd had from being part of that photogenic moment, and one lived long and quiet life as a mortician, avoiding interviews and memories. James Bradley does a great job of researching the men and trying to figure out what kind of people they were and what brought them together in their historic moment.

Although I at some times thought the author focused a little too much on himself and his views about his father, it also serves to bring the book to a personal level. I thought it was both well-written and extremely interesting. The horrors the young men experienced are compared and contrasted with the government's exploitation of them afterwards, travelling the country trying to sell war bonds to a public desperate for tangible heroes.

I'll be interested to see Clint Eastwood's movie based on the book, and will let you know how that is. (I'm guessing that since one of the characters is Native American, Adam Beach will be in it...since he is apparently the ONLY NATIVE AMERICAN ACTOR IN THE UNIVERSE anymore. Seriously, Hollywood, there must be Native American actors, and besides, Beach is really not very good. TRY HARDER, PLEASE.)

1 comment:

Jen K said...

Congratulations!
I haven't actually seen this movie, either, but I saw the companion film, Letters from Iwo Jima, and I liked it.