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


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