Flyboys: A True Story of Courage

Flyboys: A True Story of Courage

by James D. Bradley

The classic New York Times bestselling story of heroism and sacrifice--by the author of Flags of Our Fathers, The Imperial Cruise, and The China Mirage.This acclaimed bestseller brilliantly illuminates a hidden piece of World War II history as it tells the harrowing true story of nine American airmen shot down in the Pacific.

What happened to the other eight remained a secret for almost 60 years.

After the war, the American and Japanese governments conspired to cover up the shocking truth, and not even the families of the airmen were informed of what happened to their sons.

Their fate remained a mystery--until now.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.16
  • Pages: 464
  • Publish Date: September 14th 2004 by Back Bay Books
  • Isbn10: 0316159433
  • Isbn13: 9780316159432

What People Think about "Flyboys: A True Story of Courage"

This is one of those books that gives you a different perspective on history than the one you receive in school and it turned my perception of the world on its head (in a good way.) If you've never wondered how horrific tragedies are perpetrated on mankind, you are like probably 95% of the rest of the civilized world, and you should probably read this book.

This is the first time I've read a book that has made me feel like I needed to take a shower afterwards. At times Flyboys made me ashamed to be an American. At other times it made me ashamed to be part of the human race, period. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good soldier." Bradley doesn't sugar coat...he doesn't rationalize as he reveals the hypocrisy of war. This book made me feel so many things.

I believe any culture can be indoctrinated into any attitude that the leaders want to teach them" Quote from Glen Berry, who was on the Bataan Death March, endured two Hell Ships*, and had medical experiments performed on him at Fukuoka prison camp. Like Barry, I am now convinced that any culture can be indoctrinated into the crazy ideas of its leaders - especially totalitarian cultures, In Japan's case this involved a ferocious commitment to military expansionism, a savage military culture, and this combined with a will never to surrender. The first thing I encountered when reading this book - to my surprise - was a great feeling of pity for the young men who entered and fought in the Japanese army. Yes, the treatment they meted out to prisoners of war was terrible, but their own experiences in the army were terrible too. It is a ferocious and cruel weapon - in this instance used by the Americans against the Japanese. The new army recruit entered a violent asylum where he was pummelled, slapped, kicked and beaten daily." Billy Mitchell One of the most exciting and fascinating parts of the book is the author's description of General Billy Mitchell, who almost single-handedly brought air power to America, and against great odds, fought to convince American leadership of the importance of aeroplanes in warfare. Japan's Invasion of China 1931, 1937-1945 The Japanese campaigns in China were brutal and ruthless. But American intelligence gathering got warning that the Japanese were going to attack Midway Island (Part of Hawaii I think?). Five minutes of applied American air power had turned the tide of the Pacific War. It was far from over though, because the Japanese would not surrender. Every inch of the way - the Japanese would not surrender. American air power takes over the outer islands of Japan. War atrocities committed by the Americans and the Japanese. In spite of the efforts of the author to be fair to both sides, I got the impression that the Japanese were far more cruel towards the people they captured, not least because their culture had no respect whatsoever for POWs. In their books, anyone threatened with being taken prisoner should do the honourable thing and commit suicide, therefore people who allowed themselves to be taken prisoner were regarded as despicable. I think their attitude was greatly exacerbated by the experiences of fire bombing that the Japanese had at the hands of the Americans. Death rates in Prisoner of War Camps: Germany ......4% Italy................4% Japan............27% War atrocities committed by senior Japanese military against their own army. Japanese troops left defending the islands were expected to fend for themselves. Incredibly, Allied bullets accounted only for one third of all Japanese troop fatalities in the Pacific war. The senior Japanese military's lack of strategy and planning accounted for most deaths. All over the islands these soldiers tried to survive by eating things like boiled grass. Examples of the Japanese refusal to surrender On Attu, 2,350 Japanese soldiers fought to the end and just 29 became prisoners of war. At Kwajalein, the Japanese garrison lost 4,938, with only 79 taken prisoner, a fatality rate of 98.4 percent. Saipan An island 1500 miles from Japan, that the Japanese never thought would be attacked. The Japanese army, often just using bamboo sticks, just hopelessly kept attacking the landing American soldiers. When the US Marines landed there, the fighting was terrible, but like Guam, Tinian and Saipan islands, it gave the Americans long airfields that B-29 airplanes could take off from, to bring war to the island of Japan. He described the Tokyo raid in a confidential memo as "one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of non-combatants in all history." Several Japanese people interviewed for the book said they thought it was this fire bombing of Japan (other cities were later fire bombed as well) that ended the war, not the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But nevertheless it was the dropping of the atom bombs that finally provoked the senior military into surrender.... "Japan shall be given an opportunity to end the war" It stated. There was no surrender, and in August there followed some more terrible bombing of Japan. 6th August 1945: the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima Defenders of the dropping of the atom bombs in Japan "Word War II veteran Paul Fussell wrote "The degree to which Americans register shock and extraordinary shame about the Hiroshima bomb correlates closely with lack of information about the Pacific war." Marine veteran and historian William Manchester wrote, "You think of the lives which would have been lost in an invasion of Japan's home islands - a staggering number of Americans but millions more of Japanese - and you thank God for the atomic bomb". Japanese pilot Mitsuo Fushida, who led Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour. The Japanese people know more about that then the American public will ever know." But perhaps the greatest life-saving function of the atom bombs was that it shortened the fire bombing of Japan. Secretary of State James Byrnes said the atom bombs dis not cause "nearly as many deaths as there would have been had our air force continued to drop incendiary bombs on Japan's cities." Against the dropping of the atom bombs NOTE: Jan-Maat Landlubber here at GR suggests it was not the atom bomb which stopped the war, but a change to the terms of the peace treaty. "Apparently the idea that the nuclear bombs shortened the war on Japan is a myth - there's a discussion in The Shock of the Old. The two bombs cost 2 billion dollars and had the destructive power of a raid by 220 and 125 B29s respectively, but the same amount of money as was spent on the nuclear programme could have bought five times more artillery than the US had in the theatre, or one third as many more tanks or several thousand more B29 bombers - all of which would have been available for use far earlier on in the war. The Japanese surrendered.

Immanuel Kant James Bradley in his book unveils the secret stories of eight flyboys executed far out in the vast pacific in WWII Let me be honest, friends.... I wasn't the least prepared for what I was up to reading "Flyboys: A True Story of Courage"; I mean I was expecting somewhat like adventure and Heroismus a la Hollywood, with simple black and white, the good guys against the bad ones..... This is exactly what wars gives birth to, human monsters!!!! (.....At that time we were all just kids......) Bradley managed it to show us the faces and gives light to their stories--young people-- So reading about their fates, and what happened to them will punch you for good in the bowels!!!

Written by Bill Bradley and published in 2003, Flyboys tells the story of eight American Navy pilots who were shot down and captured by the Japanese during World War II. A ninth flyboy, President H.W. Bush, also was shot down, but was rescued by an American submarine before the Japanese could capture him. Its against a complex historical setting that Bradley tells the story of the American flyboys on Chichi Jima. Although his book most likely will appeal directly to historians, its lessons and the questions about war it forces us to ask makes it essential reading for us all.

I tried to read Flyboys: A True Story of Courage twice before and always stopped when the author tells the story of a Japanese soldier who rapes and kills a young girl after he kills the father. Here is a young George Bush after several months at war in the Pacific: (view spoiler) At 7:15 A.M., after a breakfast of powdered eggs, bacon, sausage, dehydrated fried potatoes, and toast, George lifted his torpedo plane off the carrier with Ted White and John Delaney in back. Georges plane carried four 500 pound bombs. Surrounding these radio towers were nests of antiaircraft guns and radar facilities, now homed in on George and his group. Fifty-seven years later, I asked George Bush what it was like to dive straight toward antiaircraft gunners trying to blow him out of the sky. But on September 2, that someone else was George Bush.

James Bradley was the author of that book, which he wrote largely after becoming intrigued with the story of his father, who was one of the six servicemen who raised the flag over Iwo Jima, an act that was caught by a photographer in one of the most famous pictures ever published. Bradley then engaged in a two-year research that took him all over the world, interviewing survivors and relations of those who did not survive concerning events that took place on the island of Chichi Jima in 1945, when eight American airmen were captured by Japanese stationed on that island. As World War II ground down to its final close, ten American airmen of various ranks approached the island from different planes that were shot down in the grueling task of bringing the war home to the Japanese. Finally, Bradley has provided a large number of interesting pictures to help the reader understand what these different people were like and how they interacted as they did.

I enjoyed learning about the Doolittle Raid, Tokyo Fire Raid and hearing about President George H.W. Bush and his time as a flyboy.

What I did not expect, however, was how Mr. Bradley wraps that core story with a broader description of US and Japanese histories, including social evolution and atrocities committed by both countries at various times in their pasts, up to and including the end of World War 2. And while he pulls no punches in describing the horrific atrocities visited upon the Chinese by the Japanese invaders before and during WW2, and makes no excuses for the treatment of the US fliers captured on Chichi Jima, the reader is reminded that the US didn't exactly come away from WW2 with clean hands, either. What I took away from this book is that the perception of morality in wartime and what constitutes war crimes is very much in the eye of the beholder (or more accurately, the recipient). In the end, I found that Bradley had given me a fresh perspective on the Pacific war, and the morality of its conduct by both sides.

Bradley does a masterful job in relating the horrific details of what happened to 8 U.S. pilots on a speck of earth called Chichi Jima. This book is not propaganda based on 5th hand accounts of war crimes. On the contrary, Bradley gives insightful context and pulls no punches in his depiction of both the Japanese and Americans. He doesn't gloss over the strafing of schools and hospitals by U.S. pilots or the nightmarish details of firebombings of major cities (Bradley points out the British and American strongly condemned the Germans and Japanese for bombing city centers as uncivilized barbarism, then proceeded to do the same on a much larger scale and with complete air superiority under the euphemistic term "strategic bombing"). I had always been aware of the Japanese atrocities: Bataan death march, Rape of Nanking, horrendous death camps. On the other hand are the tales in this book. But there was something much worse for me in reading this book. Not until these terrible kinds of things happen again to people we care about (i.e. white Americans) will we ever hear about them.