The Book Reviews – Website

August 30, 2009

Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers

Author: James Bradley

Page Length: 211  

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Realistic Fiction     

PLOT SUMMARY: James Bradley is the son of John Bradley, one of the six soldiers photographed raising the American flag on Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima during World War ll.  As the story begins, James and his family are placing a memorial plaque atop the mountain in 1998, in memory of their father and husband.

The book proceeds with a description of each of the “boys” who joined the armed services in the early 1940’s to serve their country, not knowing that a photograph would be taken which would made them national heroes. Details of their family backgrounds, training, and personalities before they are a part of a major military convergence on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima are written. The violent battle which lasted for over a month and had over 27,000 combined casualties is then described in detail.

The history of the famous photograph, the building of its monument, and the celebrity lives that followed the surviving soldiers and families of those who died is chronicled.   

REVIEW: John Bradley did not share the experience of his military career with his family, although they knew he was one of the six soldiers pictured in the infamous picture of the soldiers raising the flag atop Mt. Suribachi. It was after his death, that his son, James, began research on each of the other soldiers and the part they each played in the month long battle between the United States and Japan at Iwo Jima. 

Most Americans are familiar with the picture and monument, but are probably not aware of the enormous amount of lives lost in just one month’s time.  Bradley writes the book in various time spans, including points of view from the soldiers, their families and their peers. 

I found the book to be quite interesting and informative.  It could be used in both Social Studies and English classes.  At the beginning of the book, there is a disclaimer that it is fiction.  However, I believe it is as close of an actual account of these six American heroes that we will have.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Historical Context, Character, Theme, Conflict, and Setting

RELATED BOOKS: Storm Landings: Epic Amphibious Battles in the Central Pacific, Iwo Jima: Amphibious Epic, a Marine Corps Monograph

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006, Japanese)


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner


Filed under: *Books NOT In Your Classroom,E — thebookreviews @ 7:26 pm
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Eclipse (Book 3 in the Twilight series)

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Page Length: 629

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: With Edward back in full force in Bella’s life, her desire to become a vampire after high school graduation strengthens. However, the vampire Victoria is back with an army of newborn vampires which wreak havoc on the nearby Seattle area. Victoria, who still harbors intense revenge against Bella, sets her site on the town of Forks! Victoria plans to set these newborn vampires onto Bella!

Meanwhile, Bella becomes engaged to Edward and spends some of her free-time with Jake. During this time, Jake’s feelings for Bella intensify. Later in the woods, Bella and Jake kiss, however Bella quickly explains to Jake that even though she loves him, her love for Edward is much greater. She also reiterates the fact that she still desires to be a vampire.

Both the vampires and the werewolves of Forks become aware of the approaching newborn vampires and form an alliance for the primary purpose of protecting Bella. Due to a set of circumstances, both Edward and Jake become part of the fight. The intensity at which they battle against the newborn vampires is symbolic of the intensity of love that both Edward and Jake share for Bella. Thankfully, Victoria and the newborn vampires are destroyed.

Eclipse ends with Jake receiving a wedding invitation to Bella and Edward’s nuptials.

REVIEW: I did not enjoy this book in the Twilight series as much as I did the previous two. I felt much of the beginning was very slow. However, I liked how the vampires and werewolves combined forces for the purpose of Bella’s protection.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: characterization, cause and effect, setting, comparison / contrast

RELATED BOOKS: Twilight, New Moon, Breaking Dawn

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: “Twilight” (2008), “New Moon” (2009)


REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

June 2, 2008

Fallen Angels

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Fallen Angels

Author: Walter Dean Myers

Page Length: 309  

Reading Level: 5   

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: The story begins with Richard Perry, 17, a resident of Harlem, on his way to Vietnam.  On his flight, he meets a nurse, Judy, also going to serve in the Army.  Upon arrival, Perry joins his unit made up of Lobel, Johnson, Brunner and Pewee.  Although strangers in a strange land, the men quickly bond as they begin their service time in Vietnam. 

The soldiers first must get used to the harsh living conditions of the hot, humid, conditions of the country. Then, they learned to deal with the unknowing agenda that awaited them each day.  Many days, they didn’t do anything but sit around the camp playing games.  Other days, they were sent into villages to meet the women, children and older citizens of Vietnam.  At other times, they were sent to battle to protect or defend other units. 

After their first experience with combat, Perry realizes he doesn’t know a prayer to recite.  As a group, they learn to pray together.  They welcome the priest and chaplain’s visits.  Throughout the book, rumors are constant that the peace talks are making progress and the war will end soon.  However, the days go into weeks, the weeks into months and the battles continue. 

Perry writes to his family, but doesn’t tell them what the war is really like.  The war becomes more real as soldiers get wounded and die.  By the middle of the book, the small unit is in the middle of the war.  They believe in defending their country, but they question how it is being done.  They see each other get wounded both physically and emotionally and they share a dream—to get home alive.

REVIEW: This book was very descriptive and realistic in its presentation of action in the Vietnam War.  It is a narrative told from the point of view of a 17 year old African American from Harlem and his experience in the war.  Myers vividly describes the difficulty in getting a good night’s rest on page 61. A simile on page 63 is a good example of Myers excellent writing ability.  The descriptions of battle made me feel as if I were a part of the unit as they fought to return home.

I enjoyed the book, especially because I have a high interest in this war, as it occurred when I was in high school.  Boys would especially like this book, but I think girls could easily read it with great interest.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Supporting details, Setting, Characters, Compare/Contrast, Sequence of Events, Conclusions, Generalizations, and Predictions

TOUCHY AREAS: Strong language

RELATED BOOKS: Vietnam Nurse, In Country

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Platoon, Green Berets, Dear America: Letters from Vietnam


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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