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I don t give out 5 stars too often, and this one should get a six The stories in this book had to be told, and they had to be told in a particular way 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 The fact that this island is not a WWII household place name such as Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, or Dunkirk is by design the tale was kept secret by the U.S military However, I m surprised Bradley never revealed t I don t give out 5 stars too often, and this one should get a six The stories in this book had to be told, and they had to be told in a particular way 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 The fact that this island is not a WWII household place name such as Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, or Dunkirk is by design the tale was kept secret by the U.S military However, I m surprised Bradley never revealed the best part Chichi Jima means tits island owing to its two prominent mountains These stories, and the greater context in which they played out, will stay with me for a long, long time I couldn t stop reading despite the rapid descent into unthinkable atrocities committed by nations and individuals on each other Just when you think it can t get any worse, it does I ll spare those details here What is important is that Bradley is using primary sources He interviews the individuals who witnessed, or even committed, the crimes related This book is not propaganda based on 5th hand accounts of war crimes These things happened and cannot be denied I always try not to stand in judgment of things I did not witness especially when it s over 6 decades removed from the events But that is a challenge with this one.To be honest, when my dad first recommended this book to me and I read the covers, I thought great,overly patriotic America World Police as in what South Park creators poke fun at America, F yeah Gonna save the motherf n world yeah 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 m still extremely disturbed and angered at my own ignorance of the American war on Filipinos from 1898 1902 which killed an estimated 250,000 civilians To illustrate, one U.S general ordered, Kill everyone over ten years of age as a policy for clearing villages in the Philippines Throughout history when the West U.S., Britain, France, etc wanted something oil, sugar, labor, farm lands they took it regardless of its lands being inhabited or if the barbarous locals had the audacity to rebel or reject the colonists god e.g American Indians, Chinese, basically the entire African continent Japan being a latecomer, felt they were only doing what others have done to build empire and why should the West complain Their mistake was in being non white.This book has really left me torn I had always been aware of the Japanese atrocities Bataan death march, Rape of Nanking, horrendous death camps But reading the first hand accounts was still shocking I ve always felt balanced I have Japanese and haole ancestry One great uncle died for the U.S while serving in his segregated unit, the AJA 100th Infantry Battalion My other great uncle survived the Bataan death march only to succumb to disease and starvation later on in the Japanese prison camp I spent two and a half years living in Japan and met many veterans of the war I ve always held to the belief that these were extraordinary times and conscripted Japanese regulars were only slightly better off than their enemies or conquered subjects But this book still shook my faith Could the people I know have really done these things On a broader level, how could the Japanese culture, even in its grotesquely twisted form as created by the militarists, have generated such horror On the one hand I know the Japanese to be so simple and peaceful, just barely separated from our roots in nature If have you seen Pom Poko, that anime film really captures that side of Japanese culture Shinto is such beautiful and simple animismakin to Native American and African religions than anything else in principle if not in practice On the other hand are the tales in this book But there was something much worse for me in reading this book I can t help but feel that equally horrendous things are occurring today right under our noses, and that these crimes will repeat themselves over and over again Not until these terrible kinds of things happen again to people we care about i.e white Americans will we ever hear about them Knowledge of horror and survivor guilt will not be enough to prevent further acts of atrocity Every so often a book comes along which goes beyond excellent or informative It goes beyond all the customary accolades critics heap upon a fine book and its author A book sometimes reaches the level of being an important, if not an essential, part of the literary canon Flyboys if not for historical reasons, then for philosophical ones is such a book.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 Japa Every so often a book comes along which goes beyond excellent or informative It goes beyond all the customary accolades critics heap upon a fine book and its author A book sometimes reaches the level of being an important, if not an essential, part of the literary canon Flyboys if not for historical reasons, then for philosophical ones is such a book.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 Considered too sensitive for public knowledge, the fate of these men was kept secret for decades Subsequent to the 1997 declassification of war crimes trials records, Bradley poignantly notes he had learned what the mothers of these eight men went to their graves never knowing The airmen were shot down while trying to take out communications equipment on the island of Chichi Jima, which is about 150 miles north of Iwo Jima A ninth flyboy, President H.W Bush, also was shot down, but was rescued by an American submarine before the Japanese could capture him Bradley describes in detail first hand accounts of the gruesome treatment endured by the American P.O.W.s Accounts on Chichi Jima correlate with shocking and appalling records of torture inflicted on Americans held captive elsewhere by the Japanese, including live medical experiments without anesthesia It s my opinion that further details of the treatment of American P.O.W.s must be read in context and any spoilers would be an injustice both to the book and to the memories of the airmen.As important as this book is for the reasons noted above, it s what Bradley accomplishes indirectly that makes his book utterly valuable He forces us to contemplate war in all its horror and implicitly calls us to considerdeeply principles of justice before, during, and after conflict He accomplishes this inoffensively, devoid of preachiness or moral superiority.Because it s all too easy for the victor to write the events of history and vilify the enemy, Bradley begins Flyboys by reminding his readers of American behavior in the days of our westward expansion He draws on primary source documents to highlight the obvious United States land grab of the Mexican American War and the slaughtering and frequent mutilation of Native Americans by people who, without compunction, would proceed to sing praises to the Christian God in houses of worship Bradley also juxtaposes Japanese aggression of the Meiji Restoration to the heavy handedness of Commodore Matthew Perry in opening up Japan to the outside world It s quite possible, if not probable, Japanese leadership in many ways was mimicking western attitudes in their own colonial conquestsNations tend to see the other side s war atrocities as systemic and indicative of their culture and their own atrocities as justified or the acts of stressed combatantsBill BradleyNowhere in the events noted above does one sense anti American or anti military sentiment Nor does Bradley ever suggest or imply that America had it coming when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor It does seem to me, however, he wants the reader to think critically about the war and our own national past.It s 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 @DOWNLOAD EPUB ¾ Flyboys: A True Story of Courage × Over the remote Pacific island of Chichi Jima, nine American flyers Navy and Marine pilots sent to bomb Japanese communications towers there were shot down Flyboys, a story of war and horror but also of friendship and honor, tells the story of those men Over the remote Pacific island of Chichi Jima, nine American flyers Navy and Marine pilots sent to bomb Japanese communications towers there were shot down One of those nine was miraculously rescued by a US Navy submarine The others were captured by Japanese soldiers on Chichi Jima and held prisoner Then they disappeared When the war was over, the American government, along with the Japanese, covered up everything that had happened on Chichi Jima The records of a top secret military tribunal were sealed, the lives of the eight Flyboys were erased, and the parents, brothers, sisters, and sweethearts they left behind were left to wonder Flyboys reveals for the first time ever the extraordinary story of those men Bradley s quest for the truth took him from dusty attics in American small towns, to untapped government archives containing classified documents, to the heart of Japan, and finally to Chichi Jima itself What he discovered was a mystery that dated back far before World War II backyears, to America s westward expansion and Japan s first confrontation with the western world Bradley brings into vivid focus these brave young men who went to war for their country, and through their lives he also tells the larger story of two nations in a hellish war With no easy moralizing, Bradley presents history in all its savage complexity, including the Japanese warrior mentality that fostered inhuman brutality and the US military strategy that justified attacks on millions of civilians And, after almost sixty years of mystery, Bradley finally reveals the fate of the eight American Flyboys, all of whom would ultimately face a moment and a decision that few of us can even imagine Flyboys is a story of war and horror but also of friendship and honor It is about how we die, and how we live including the tale of the Flyboy who escaped capture, a young Navy pilot named George H W Bush who would one day become president of the United States A masterpiece of historical narrative, Flyboys will change forever our understanding of the Pacific war and the very things we fight for With men the normal state of nature is not peace but war Immanuel KantJames Bradley in his book unveils the secret stories of eight flyboys executed far out in the vast pacific in WWIILet 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..Instead I ve become crushing Realit t a With men the normal state of nature is not peace but war Immanuel KantJames Bradley in his book unveils the secret stories of eight flyboys executed far out in the vast pacific in WWIILet 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..Instead I ve become crushing Realit t and thoroughly researched details depicting a gruesome war In this war you have a big and diffuse grey zone, you cannot discern between the good and bad guys So, yes, Stephen King in the shinning , you know the famous caretaker in the hotel,.This inhuman place makes human monster.This is exactly what wars gives birth to, human monsters And so you have here the invasion from China by the japs, the fire inferno over Germany and Japan with hundred of thousands casualties, the B 29 flying Superfortresses with their deathly Napalm incendiary bombs Even the atomic bombing at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.But let me say it clearly, what gets you isn t so much this descriptions, although bad as they areRather, and here it comes Marve MershonDick WoelhofGrady YorkFloyd HallGlenn FraizerAll of them young flyboys..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 I don t want to spoil, so you must read it for yourselves.The book itself is very good written, and with lots of photos and background information So you will learn a lot about the Mentalit t and customs of both the Japaner and the Americans, and also how the world at that time could become so crazy.Let me also say that it isn t an easy reading.So be watchful and prepare yourself for this special treat by Bradley and his flyboys If I were you, I would tighten up the buckle and enjoy the ride, but look out for turbulences.And of course I will and must give it five stars, without discussion I have contended that books should not get a 5 star rating unless they are must read books this is a must read There are many people who will bypass this book because it is about an old war, not worthy of their interest Many others will put it down without finishing it because it is, as the lady who loaned it to me said, rather gruesome Both of those types should read it, however, because it is full of hard truths about the nature of man in general, and about the nature of men at war in part I have contended that books should not get a 5 star rating unless they are must read books this is a must read There are many people who will bypass this book because it is about an old war, not worthy of their interest Many others will put it down without finishing it because it is, as the lady who loaned it to me said, rather gruesome Both of those types should read it, however, because it is full of hard truths about the nature of man in general, and about the nature of men at war in particular, and because it sheds some light on things that our government and our culture have tried to keep in the dark.I have not seen Clint Eastwood s Flags of Our Fathers, and I was unaware of the fact that the movie is in fact based on a book, which I also have not read 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 Having done that, Bradley wanted to find a new subject, and he found it when a mutual friend suggested he contact a retired lawyer in Iowa who just happened to have been involved in the legal proceedings of a war trial held in a hanger on Guam some 60 plus years ago The records of that trial had been sealed by the authorities of that time, but much of that information had subsequently been declassified, and the lawyer had collected a stack of documentation over the years, which he made available to Bradley 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.Like most Americans, I am sure, I had never heard of Chichi Jima or, if I heard of it back in those days, and I am sure I did, never bothered to keep it in mind ChiChi Jima is a very small island about twice as large as New York City s Central Park, Bradley reports , located not quite midway between Iwo Jima and Japan 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 One of those ten was a pilot who managed to get into a rubber raft and keep himself out at sea long enough to be picked up by an American submarine his name was George Herbert Walter Bush The other nine airmen, however, were captured by the Japanese and taken prisoner This book is about what happened to them on that island, in a real sense, but it is muchthan that Bradley introduces us to these men as teenaged boys and provides a detailed account of how they all wound up on the island and what happened to them there, but he also provides an intriguing summary history of how the Japanese and American cultures of that time came into being, of how it happened that Japan and America were fighting a war at that time, how men at war behaved, and how their political leaders behaved More than that, however, Bradley also provides an insight into the thinking of several people involved in both sides of that struggle, as they look back from the viewpoint of some 60 years later Bradley provides an index at the rear of the book listingthan a hundred books and articles used as reference material for this history, along with a list of hundreds of quotations scattered through the book, with at least one on almost every page of the book 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.Bradley writes with an interesting style, using short, terse sentences I found the book an excellent read, and I recommend it to all who have not read it It meant something different to me than it will to most readers, because I was remembering the propaganda that we were all exposed to during those years, but I learned lots of new things many of which were originally presented in the newspapers I used to deliver to my faithful customers during that same time frame, along with many that I rather doubt ever appeared in any newspapers of that time 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 What turned me off was the author appends the honorific san to this soldier It pissed me off to show that respect Well I powered through on the third try and glad I did There is a reason the author did that which you only find out about later This is a 5 Star history if there ever was one You wil 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 What turned me off was the author appends the honorific san to this soldier It pissed me off to show that respect Well I powered through on the third try and glad I did There is a reason the author did that which you only find out about later This is a 5 Star history if there ever was one You will ache for the families of the lost, the Americans and some of the Japanese Terrible things were done, a savage vengeance was wrought on Japan, not unjustified but terrible nonetheless I am so glad I read this amazing story.Some highlights George H W Bush at war is shown for the hero he is A brave young man, he might have been captured at Chichi Jima and suffered a terrible fate, rather than the admirable and honorable career he had Here is a young George Bush after several months at war in the Pacific view spoilerAt 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 Each boy wore a Mae West over his flight suit George s plane carried four 500 pound bombs As the Flyboys winged toward Chichi Jima, the enemy was monitoring their progress, Emperor Hirohito s antiaircraft gunners scanning the telltale pips on their radar screens At 8 15 A.M., George and his squadron initiated their glide bombing run Mount Yoake and Mount Asahi and their radio stations were easy targets to spot The twin peaks rose abruptly from the Pacific to a height of about one thousand feet and were distinguished by their forests of antenna towers, which served as the Japanese military s radio transmitters and receivers Surrounding these radio towers were nests of antiaircraft guns and radar facilities, now homed in on George and his group The lead plane went down through black clouds of antiaircraft fire, followed by the second The two dropped eight bombs two tons of explosives on the radio complex Now, however, the Japanese gunners had the Flyboys range in their sights George was the next to dive He could see that he had to fly into the middle of intense antiaircraft fire 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 You see the explosions all around you, he said, these dark, threatening puffs of black smoke You re tense in your body, but you can t do anything about it You cannot take evasive action, so you get used to it You just think to yourself, This is my duty and I have got to do it Bush paused for a moment and then added, And of course, you always thought someone else was going to get hit But on September 2, that someone else was George Bush At release altitude, a Japanese shell tore into his planehide spoiler George Bush is literally going down in flames I think about all the terrible things that were said about G.H.W Bush as a politician and I get pretty ticked off He wasn t the best politician but is a better man than most.The book is not just about the island of Chichi Jima and what happened there The bombing campaign against Japan was horrific even before the bomb was dropped It is hard not to sympathize with the targets of our bombers and wonder if we really needed to do this Fire bombing of Tokyo, March 1945 view spoilerThe fire was so hot that superheated vapors rushing ahead of the wall of flames killed or knocked unconscious its victims even before the flames reached them The temperature reached 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit Babies exploded on mothers backs, and cars on streets were consumed like crumpled paper Iwao Ishikawa remembered being trapped by the fire in a group of about forty people Because of this inferno, this burning hell, a young father right next to me didn t seem to know that the child on his back was on fire, Ishikawa said People on the outer edge of the group fell one by one, dead from inhalation Rivers of fire flowed down the streets Canals boiled and humans burst spontaneously into flames, blazing like matchsticks People s heads exploded in the heat, the liquid brains in their burst skulls bubbling an eerie fluorescence The feet of the fleeing masses scrunched eyeballs that had popped from sockets under pressure Miho Yoshioka ran into a temple for safety She remembered thinking that she saw a lot of statues of guardian deities inside, just like the ones outside I suddenly realized they were really burned bodies, still standing upright Nineteen year old Kimie Ono saw a mother and child running Suddenly the firestorm swept out a finger to lick them, and in a second the mother and child burst into flames Their clothes afire, they staggered and fell to the ground No one stopped to help them Hidezo Tsuchikua rushed with his two children to the Futaba School, famous for its large swimming pool He went to the roof, where flames lapped at them Inside the school building, thousands were baked to death and looked like mannequins, some of them with a pinkish complexion Tsuchikua will always remember the sight of the pool It was hideous More than a thousand people, we estimated, had jammed into the pool The pool had been filled to its brim when the first arrived Now there wasn t a drop of water, only the bodies of the adults and children who had diedhide spoiler On July 26, 1945, President Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration Once the Potsdam Declaration for unconditional surrender is announced, plans are made for the elimination of the POWs Minister of War Shitayama issued an order to POW camp commandants, instructing them what to do in the event of an invasion view spoilerWhen the battle situation becomes urgent the POWs will be concentrated and confined in their location and kept under heavy guard until preparations for the final disposition will be made Although the basic aim is to act under superior orders, individual disposition may be made in certain circumstances Whether they are destroyed individually or in groups, and whether it is accomplished by means of mass bombing, poisonous smoke, poisons, drowning, or decapitation, dispose of them as the situation dictates It is the aim not to allow the escape of a single one, to annihilate them all, and not to leave any traces.Flyboy Charlie Brown, shot down on February 16, was wasting away in the Ofuna POW camp when he got the word It was a casual comment as one of the guards was tapping me on the head with a bamboo stick, Charlie told me The guard said, If there is an invasion you will all die Flyboys were already dying As revenge for B 29 attacks in May and June, Professor Fukujiro Ishiyama, director of external medicine at Kyushu Imperial University, had strapped eight captured American crewmen to operating tables The professor didn t administer an anesthetic He began to cut He sliced out one Flyboy s lung and placed it in a surgical pan The patient was alive Then he slit his lung artery and watched the boy gurgle to death in his own blood Another boy had his stomach cut out while conscious Professor Ishiyama then cut five of the boy s ribs, slit an artery, and watched to see how long his heart would pump before he died Professor Ishiyama bored a hole in one Flyboy s skull Then he inserted a knife and twisted it around in his brain The professor wanted to see what parts of the boy s body jumped and jerked with each turn of the knifehide spoiler The atomic bombs were there and would be used after our experience on Okinawa The arguments over their use rage on but those against really don t have weight in context of the war view spoilerPika don, the survivors called it Pika flash don boom Flash boom Pika don Thirty seconds after the pika, explosive wind blew out Windows 6.6 miles away Within eight minutes, a mountain of smoke and debris arose as tall and massive as Mount Everest An estimated 140,000 people would die To Curtis and many Flyboys, the atomic bomb was not the destructive quantum leap many have since claimed Plain old fire killed most of the Hiroshima victims, and Curtis had killed almost as many in Tokyo with napalm The U.S Strategic Bombing Survey stated that the atomic bomb at Hiroshima was the equivalent of 220 fully loaded B 29s, Accordingly, a single atomic explosion represented no order of magnitude increase in destructiveness over a conventional air raid Likewise Curtis did not think a moral boundary was crossed Later, he wondered if people thought it muchwicked to kill people with a nuclear bomb, than to kill people by busting their heads with rocks I suppose they believe also that a machine gun is a hundred times wickeder than a bow and arrow Having found the bomb, President Truman said, we have used it We have used it to shorten the agony of young Americans A few days later, he explained his motives in a letter to the U.S Federal Council of Churches of Christ He told the Christian leaders, When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast Few people now reflect that samurai swords killedpeople in WWII than atomic bombs WWII 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 millionsof Japanese and you thank God for the atomic bomb Winston Churchill told Parliament that the people who preferred invasion to dropping the atomic bomb seemed to have no intention of proceeding to the Japanese front themselves Japanese pilot Mitsuo Fuchida led Japan s attack on Pearl Harbor In 1959, Fuchida told Paul Tibbets You did the right thinghide spoiler Former President Bush and a Japanese soldier meet on Chichi Jima as old men and tell their stories An emotional and wonderful meeting of former enemies, it still chokes me up, a transcendent ending to the story view spoilerAs Iwatake told the story, tears ran down our cheeks Then it was on to the sunlit shore where the handsome twenty four year old Texan had rolled down his collar The two former foes, Bush and Iwatake, placed one flower each to mark Warren Earl s death spot They lingered to speak privately I knew President Bush held Iwatake san in special esteem Earlier I had told the president how Iwatake san s life story seemed to sum up all the twists, turns, and contradictions of Japanese American relations in the twentieth century He was born Nobuaki Iwatake, the American son of Japanese immigrants He recited the Pledge of Allegiance in Hawaiian grade school Later, the Japanese army drafted him from a Tokyo college and slapped Yamato damashii into him Then American submarines torpedoed him and Flyboys flung bombs at his head Awaiting slaughter by the expected soon to invade American devils, he assisted Japanese intelligence while seated at a radio console trading jokes with a Cherokee Marine Having formed a close bond with this kichiku, he came to loathe Captain Yoshii for ordering Warren Earl s death Months later, on August 6, 1945, Iwatake san was still atop Mount Yoake with his headsets He was startled to hear about an explosive device called the atomic bomb His extended family lived in Hiroshima He later learned that his younger brother had been vaporized near the detonation point Bearing no grudges, he promoted friendship between America and Japan as a longtime employee in the press section of the United States embassy in Japan Iwatake san is retired now and lives in a comfortable section of Tokyo He holds Japanese and American citizenship Standing where Warren Earl had died, I was moved by the sight of the old Flyboy and the old issen gorin together once boys whose divine mission had been to kill each other, now wiser men lost in the quiet murmurs of mutual understanding The Flyboy who got away became president of the United States What might have been for Warren Earl, Dick, Marve, Glenn, Floyd, Jimmy, the unidentified airman, and all the Others who had lost their lives A Nobel prize, a wife s love, a daughter s soft memory And what might have been for those millions of doomed Japanese boys, abused and abandoned by their leaders War is the tragedy of what might have beenhide spoiler I give it my highest possible recommendation I ve been reading historical non fiction for a LONG time, and it s rare to find a book about as threadbare a topic as World War 2 that is both informative and, at the same time, causes one to re examine ones perspective of those events Flyboys was one of those books for me.All I knew or thought I knew about Flyboys when I bought it last week off the bargain book shelf at Borders was that it was the story of downed US aviators and their horrific treatment at the hands of their Japanese captors I ve been reading historical non fiction for a LONG time, and it s rare to find a book about as threadbare a topic as World War 2 that is both informative and, at the same time, causes one to re examine ones perspective of those events Flyboys was one of those books for me.All I knew or thought I knew about Flyboys when I bought it last week off the bargain book shelf at Borders was that it was the story of downed US aviators and their horrific treatment at the hands of their Japanese captors And at its core, that is exactly what it is 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 In the earliest parts of this book I began to suspect I had bought a revisionist liberal diatribe, as Mr Bradley describes the treatment of the American Indian in the late 19th century as ethnic cleansing , and then went on to describe how US soldiers wiped out entire villages during the Philippine insurrection of the early 20th century As I continued reading however, I discovered that Bradley was setting the groundwork for a comparison between US and Japanese cultural history up to WW2 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 The fire bombing of Japanese cities and the resulting heavy civilian casualties is a powerful example of actions taken by the US that, had it been inflicted upon us instead, would have led to screams of war crimes And yet, Bradley makes clear that the fire bombing of Japan was key to bring the war to an end prior to a US invasion, and also places the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the proper historical context.Some reviewers on.com have levelled the charge of moral equivalency against this book I was thinking that way as I read the early chapters as well, but I did not come away with that feeling by the time I read the final page Nowhere does Bradley make the claim that the US was just as bad as Japan, or that the US and Japan were morally equivalent 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 oraccurately, the recipient For example, in the US we hold the Doolittle raiders as real military heroes an opinion that I continue to hold Bradley effectively conveys that, from the Japanese point of view, the raiders or at least some of them bombed a hospital, strafed civilian fishing boats, and killed schoolchildren While the bomb related casualties can be excused as unintentional, one cannot say the same about the intentional strafing of civilians It injects a little bit of dirty reality to the US perception of events, which in the end is what the entire book accomplishes Bradley doesn t argue that US and Japanese behavior was equal, but rather that our conduct of the war in the Pacific was a lotgritty and morally ambiguous than we tend to believe 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 I appreciate that For Christmas, I got this as a book on tape, but I enjoyed the first chapters so much that I went out and bought the book James Bradley s writing is elegant and well researched I enjoyed learning about the Doolittle Raid, Tokyo Fire Raid and hearing about President George H.W Bush and his time as a flyboy.I would have liked to heardetails on the daily life of different fliers andabout some of the boys that survived The book was very focused on the war crimes committed on Chichi J For Christmas, I got this as a book on tape, but I enjoyed the first chapters so much that I went out and bought the book James Bradley s writing is elegant and well researched I enjoyed learning about the Doolittle Raid, Tokyo Fire Raid and hearing about President George H.W Bush and his time as a flyboy.I would have liked to heardetails on the daily life of different fliers andabout some of the boys that survived The book was very focused on the war crimes committed on Chichi Jima It is a very important part of history, but I found the title misleading This is the first time I ve read a book that has made me feel like I needed to take a shower afterwards.It s brutal It s in your face graphic It s violent If this had been a movie, I would ve gotten up and walked out.I have almost no tolerance for violence None Zip Nadda.But, I realized this book was important This wasn t gratuitous violence meant to thrill and excite This was honesty at its bestor at its worst depending on how you look at it, but honesty nonetheless.When I think of W This is the first time I ve read a book that has made me feel like I needed to take a shower afterwards.It s brutal It s in your face graphic It s violent If this had been a movie, I would ve gotten up and walked out.I have almost no tolerance for violence None Zip Nadda.But, I realized this book was important This wasn t gratuitous violence meant to thrill and excite This was honesty at its bestor at its worst depending on how you look at it, but honesty nonetheless.When I think of World War II, like many I think of Germany and Hitler and all the horrendous things the Nazis did But when it comes to war, it would seem all parties involved have something to feel shameful about.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 This General Curtis LeMay quote sums it upEvery soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you re not a good soldierBradley doesn t sugar coathe doesn t rationalize as he reveals the hypocrisy of war It s only barbarous until you do itto protect your menor to further your agenda.This book made me feel so many things Ultimately, it reinforced that while not all things are fair in love or warthey also aren t simple or demarcated in black and white.Was dropping the A bombkilling all those innocent civilians wrong even though ultimately it may have preventeddeath than it caused For that matter, were the brutal napalm attacks anyhumane than the A bomb Were the Japanese attempts to claim uncivilized China really any different than America s campaign against the native American Indians What makes this account which focuses on the flyboys and America s air fleet so compelling is that Bradley seems to hold nothing back in the telling He doesn t decide for youjust lays it out in all its ugliness Often a good book leaves you withquestions than answers and that is the kind of book this was Excellent read, even if it was a hard one My ignorance about the Second World War in the Pacific was shameful, but thanks to this brilliant book that has been to a degree rectified It presents a marvellous overview not only of crucial events, but of the history leading up to both Japan and America s involvement in that war.It s a difficult read, purely because the book contains so much about violence and human degradation, but I personally feel these are things I ought to know In my spoiler I give a very long and thorough synopsis of My ignorance about the Second World War in the Pacific was shameful, but thanks to this brilliant book that has been to a degree rectified It presents a marvellous overview not only of crucial events, but of the history leading up to both Japan and America s involvement in that war.It s a difficult read, purely because the book contains so much about violence and human degradation, but I personally feel these are things I ought to know In my spoiler I give a very long and thorough synopsis of aspects of the book that particularly interested me mostly quotes from the book , and here I just note some of my general feelings after reading itI have forgiven the Japanese I have Japanese friends I make it clear that I have respect for the Japanese now because they have changed their attitude 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 An overwhelming sorrow for what they had to endure Yes, the treatment they meted out to prisoners of war was terrible, but their own experiences in the army were terrible too.The book showed me levels of human depravity that I hadn t realised existed Man s inhumanity to man can be truly extraordinary Every society has people who are sadists and enjoy violence They must be kept out of the army as much as possible, and certainly great efforts should be made to keep them out of senior army posts They should never be put in charge of soldiers.Many of the Japanese interviewed after the war showed revulsion and sorrow for acts they had committed during the war.War is a terrible terrible thing I was also very shocked by people s experiences of being fire bombed with napalm It is a ferocious and cruel weapon in this instance used by the Americans against the Japanese.I think this is an incredible book, very well written too, and easy to read I find it hard to read war books, but this had me gripped every inch of the way Highly recommended Hell ships notes view spoiler Size of JapanIt is a small country the size of California.Japanese prisoners of warThe appalling treatment often meted out to their prisoners of war was a recent phenomena In the Sino Japanese war of 1894, their treated their Russian prisoners very well, and adhered to international agreements governing behaviour in war.Japan in World War 1They were on the side of the Allies.Emperor Hirohito 1910 1989His father had mental health problems, and he was brought up instead by a retired admiral He was enrolled at a military school at age 7 The emphasis was on military subjects His teachers included an army general, two navy rear admirals and four active duty lieutenant generals At his home, the army had a trench dug inside the crown prince s compound, so that Hirohito could practice firing with machine guns In the evenings, military tutors played war strategy games with him He was constantly in the company of older military men, who encouraged him to act in a military manner.General education in Japan was militaristic Hirohito was far from alone in having a martial curriculum For decades the army had seen to it that physical culture, military training in the public schools, and military spirit education in general should be encouraged, to produce good and faithful subjects Every facet of the curriculum was permeated with emperor worship and militarism The army officer custodians of young Japanes minds had long endured rough corporal punishments in their barracks, and they transplanted their brutal treatment to the schools.Japanese soldiersBoot camp was utterly brutal The leaders of the army began to teach a basterdized version of Bushido Way of the Warrior tradition, that taught a cult of death They told soldiers they they would die for the emperor Recruits were constantly told their lives were worth nothing compared to the glorious contribution they could make to their country by dying in battle for the emperor It was absolutely forbidden to withdraw, surrender, or become a prisoner of war.Life for the trainee Japanese soldier Brutality and cruelty were the rule rather than the exception in the Japanese army The new army recruit entered a violent asylum where he was pummelled, slapped, kicked and beaten daily Billy MitchellOne 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 1945The Japanese campaigns in China were brutal and ruthless They took over large sections of the eastern area of the country, including Nanking, which spawned the famous book The Rape of Nanking , describing this fighting in all its savagery.Japan s initial hostilities in the Second World War1 1940 Japan allied with Germany and Italy in the Triparate Act.2 End 1941 Japan fed up with sanctions from the USA, started a two prong attack Pearl Harbour 20,000 troops landed on the east coast of Malaya, where there were 80,000 British troops The Japanese won and the British surrendered.The American air raid in response to Pearl Harbour The Doolittle Raid The soldiers of Japan thought the Pearl Harbour attack would dishearten the Americans, but the opposite was true It gave America a sense of moral ferocity that no government propaganda could have come close to matching America s rage bordered on the genocidal.The Americans planned a daring raid They planned to fly bombers off aircraft carrier ships, which had never been achieved before because bombers were so big They were too big to land back on the ships, so had to fly on, after the raid, to land in unoccupied parts of China The raid was a great success They dropped magnesium firebombs on Tokyo and other places on Honshu Island, causing notable damage.Japan was bowled over by the intrusion There were many casualties..and the boast that Premier Hideki Tojo had made that Japan has never lost a war in all the 2,600 years of her glorious history was going to be destroyed.The Japanese took terrible vengeance by infiltrating that part of China that had helped the airmen It is calculated that a quarter of a million Chinese were killed in their three month campaign of revenge Biological WarfareJapan was so outraged by the Doolittle Raid that it unleashed biological warfare, and experimented on Chinese civilians at the infamous Unit 731 They were infected with bubonic plague, pneumonia,epidemic haemorrhagic fever, typhoid and syphilis The Chinese were injected with pathogens and their bodies used as disease incubators The Japanese then sprayed these things across east China The total number of casualties has never been determined, but the effects and be imputed from Japanese records On reports stated that during one assault, a last minute change in the wind led to the deaths of 1,700 Japanese soldiers and the injury of 10,000Japan was the only combatant of WW2 to use biological warfare.Battle of Midway Island 4th June, 1942.Japan s navel power was hugely superior to America s navel power But American intelligence gathering got warning that the Japanese were going to attack Midway Island Part of Hawaii I think They therefore sent out bomber and fighter planes which caused havoc to the Japanese fleet of ships The Battle of Midway decided the outcome of the war The Japanese fleet was crippled 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.The Japanese built impregnable fortresses on islands like Rabaul and Truk They thought these fortresses would secure the South Pacific But using its airplanes, the US leap frogged its way to victory They used their airplanes to soften up the islands for the US Marines to capture Not only would they bomb in advance of the troops, but they would keep the marines supplied with food, medical supplies and ammunition These supplies would be flown in, and the wounded flown out Island by island the Americans were heading for Japan.War atrocities committed by the Americans and the Japanese.These happened on both sides e.g., Japanese pilots were routinely shot out of the sky, rather than being taken prisoner, but it wasn t even handed In spite of the efforts of the author to be fair to both sides, I got the impression that the Japanese were farcruel 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 It was horrendous I think revenge played no small part in the way they treated their prisoners Suffice it to say I encountered levels of depravity and cruelty in this book that I didn t know existed.Death rates in Prisoner of War Camps Germany 4%Italy.4%Japan27%War atrocities committed by senior Japanese military against their own army.For me this was almost the most shocking part of the book Japanese troops left defending the islands were expected to fend for themselves The Japanese army did nothing to support them 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 Indeed, when the Americans island hopped toward Tokyo they simply bypassed these pitiful abandoned troops Some of them tried to stay alive by farming and fishing More than one third died of sickness and starvation On Wolwei, a force of over 7,000 men numbered fewer than 2,000 by the end of the war All over the islands these soldiers tried to survive by eating things like boiled grass In some instances they resorted to cannibalism eating their own comrades.157,646 Japanese soldiers were sent to New Guinea Only 10,072 survived Allied bullets killed relatively few The vast majority died through disease and starvation.Examples of the Japanese refusal to surrenderOn Attu, 2,350 Japanese soldiers fought to the end and just 29 became prisoners of war A fatality rate of 98.8 percent On Tarawa, 99.7 percent of the imperial navy s force of 2,571 men stood in front of the Marines bullets rather than surrender Only eight Japanese were captured alive.On Makin, only one out ofthan three hundred men survived the battle.At the Marshalls, the Japanese lost 3,472 and only 51 were captured, a fatality rate of 98.5 percent At Kwajalein, the Japanese garrison lost 4,938, with only 79 taken prisoner, a fatality rate of 98.4 percent.SaipanAn island 1500 miles from Japan, that the Japanese never thought would be attacked 40,000 naval and army forces defended the island There were also approximately 20,000 civilians The Americans attacked the island with vigour Realising its soldiers and civilians were hopeless trapped, Japanese military leaders decided that all the Japanese on the island soldiers and civilians alike should die and gave the order that this should be done The Japanese army, often just using bamboo sticks, just hopelessly kept attacking the landing American soldiers The civilians committed suicide by jumping off a cliff called Marpi Point men, women and children Just a few surrendered.Iwo Jima IslandThe air force bombed this island ferociously before the troops arrived 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.NapalmNapalm was invented by Harvard president James Conant, and scientists at MIT, DuPont and Standard Oil The found that mixing Naphthenic and Palmitic acids hence na palm with gasoline produced a sticky Vaseline like yellow paste that stuck to materials and burned slowly It was a perfect incendiary This jellied gasoline would stick to anything roofs, walls, humans and it could not be put out Water only splattered it Napalm linkhttp science.howstuffworks.com napaNapalm fire bombing of Tokyo 9th March 1945This was ferocious and terrifying An overwhelming downpour of jellied gasoline 100,000 diedthan were killed at Nagasaki, and only slightly less than at Hiroshima.Quote from Brigadier General Bonner Fellers 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.The Potsdam Declaration26 July 1945Issued by President Truman Japan shall be given an opportunity to end the war It stated Japan could surrender or face utter and complete destruction.There was no surrender, and in August there followed someterrible bombing of Japan.HiroshimaHiroshima housed the headquarters of the army that would defend Kyushu from American landings 43,000 soldiers crowded amongst Hiroshima s 280,000 civilians, and there were a number of military installations and military factories.Leaflets were dropped on Hiroshima and other towns the day before being bombed Everyone was urged to get out of their cities They were told that their towns would be obliterated.6th August 1945 the atom bomb was dropped on HiroshimaDefenders 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 millionsof Japanese and you thank God for the atomic bomb.Japanese pilot Mitsuo Fushida, who led Japan s attack on Pearl Harbour In 1959, Fushida told Paul Tibbets You did the right thing You know the Japanese attitude at the time, how fanatic they were, they d die for the Emperor..Every man, woman and child would have resisted the invasion with sticks and stones if necessary Can you imagine what a slaughter it would have been to invade Japan It would have been terrible The Japanese people knowabout 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 bombsNOTE 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 treatyApparently 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 timesartillery than the US had in the theatre, or one third as manytanks or several thousandB29 bombers all of which would have been available for use far earlier on in the war The crucial factor was apparently changing the terms of surrenderNagasaki9th August 1945 Atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki 70,000 were killed Russia invades Manchuria in ChinaThe same day, over one million Soviet troops invaded Manchuria Three months earlier, Stalin had signalled his intention to fight, when he let the USSR Japan Non aggression Act lapse His troops overran Manchuria and the Japanese emperor s pioneers who had settled there.Surrender14th August 1945 The Japanese surrendered.AfterwordEmperor Hirohito s blame for involvement in the war was hidden by the Americans They felt that the psychological blow of the god being condemned would be too much for the Japanese people Former Prime Minister Tojo and 27 other military and government officers were charged as Class A war criminals.The chemical biological warfare unit in Japan Unit 731 was offered immunity in exchange for valuable information based on its diabolical experiments General MacArthur approved this deal hide spoiler