Bradley, James 1954-
Bradley, James 1954-
PERSONAL: Born 1954, in WI; son of John (a funeral director) and Betty Bradley; married twice (divorced). Education: University of Wisconsin, graduated. Hobbies and other interests: Reading history, discovering exotic cuisine, cliff diving, SCUBA diving, golfing, skiing.
CAREER: Writer and speaker. Producer of corporate films; founder and president, James Bradley Peace Foundation.
(With Ron Powers) Flags of Our Fathers, Bantam (New York, NY), 2000, paperback edition with a new afterword by the author, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2006.
(With others) What If? 2: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been: Essays, edited by Robert Cowley, Putnam (New York, NY), 2001, published as More What If? Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been, Macmillan (London, England), 2002.
Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.
ADAPTATIONS: Flags of Our Fathers was adapted for a feature film by Clint Eastwood, 2006; a printed edition for young readers was also adapted by Michael French as Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2001.Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, was adapted for audio by Time Warner Audiobooks, 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: James Bradley became a best-selling author with the publication of his nonfiction book Flags of Our Fathers, written with Ron Powers. The book traces the lives of the six American soldiers who were immortalized in the famous photograph of them raising a flag on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II. One of those soldiers was Bradley’s father. Though a small, seemingly insignificant island in the Pacific, Iwo Jima was crucial to the American effort against Japan in World War II, and the battle to gain control of it was one of the most horrific of the war. Fighting went on for over a month, with huge losses on both sides. The photograph of Bradley’s father and the others raising a flag was not really the moment of victory, but a seemingly random incident during the Iwo Jima campaign. Yet the photograph became a powerful tool for bolstering the war effort in the United States. Three of the flag-raisers were subsequently killed on Iwo Jima, but the survivors were used for public relations and helped raise millions of dollars in war bond sales. The fame was difficult to handle, and two of the survivors went to early graves after leading unhappy lives. “Doc” Bradley, the author’s father, went on to live a seemingly normal life in which the war was seldom mentioned. Yet despite his outward calm, the war veteran cried in his sleep for years after his discharge, and his family discovered the Navy Cross for bravery tucked away in his belongings. He had never told anyone that he had been awarded this honor.
Flags of Our Fathers is “a riveting read that deals with every detail of the photograph, its composition, the biographies of the men, what heroism is, and the dubious blessings of fame,” noted Gilbert Taylor in his Booklist review. The author’s detailed description of the battle for Iwo Jima is told “vividly, often with horrifying verisimilitude,” reported Gregory Orfalea in the National Review. That the book works on several levels was confirmed by Gary Pounder, a reviewer for Aerospace Power Journal, who wrote: “This is a remarkable book, richly detailed and extraordinarily moving.” He further credited Flags of Our Fathers with “brilliantly conveying both the sweep of war and the individual struggles of soldiers locked in its grip.” Yet another aspect of the book was pointed out by William D. Bushnell in Library Journal, who stated that Flags of Our Fathers is “more than just a history of a famous battle”; it is also “a poignant and fitting tribute to a loving father.”
The Pacific during World War II was again the theme of Bradley’s next book, Flyboys: A True Story of Courage. In it he focused on nine pilots who were gunned down off the Japanese-held island of Chichi Jima. One of the nine escaped and later became president of the United States: George H.W. Bush. The other eight were captured and eventually executed. Bradley took the same approach to the story as he had in Flags of Our Fathers, looking at each man’s life in detail from early youth on into his term of military service. Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor warned that there are “many brutally graphic passages” about the torture inflicted on the captive airmen, “which may prove too daunting for some readers,” but also credited the author with handling the horrific details of the story “sensitively.” Janet Maslin, reviewing Flyboys in the New York Times, was less appreciative of Bradley’s graphic account, writing: “Much of this account has a B-movie luridness that cheapens the events described, even if the details are accurate.” A Publishers Weekly reviewer found the author’s attempt to create a sweeping picture of not only the pilots, but of their respective cultures, to be overly ambitious; yet, the critic commented that “when the book keeps its eye on the aviators. . . it is as compelling as its predecessor.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Aerospace Power Journal, spring, 2001, Gary Pounder, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 112.
American History, June, 2000, Dominic Caraccilo, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 67.
Book, November-December, 2003, Eric Wargo, review of Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, p. 76.
Booklist, March 1, 2000, Gilbert Taylor, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 1147; August, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of Flyboys, p. 1922.
Book Report, November-December, 2001, Joan Chezem, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 75.
Entertainment Weekly, October 3, 2003, Benjamin Svetkey, review of Flyboys, pp. 78-79.
Journal of Military History, April, 2001, Merrill L. Bartlett, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 554.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2003, review of Flyboys, p. 998.
Kliatt, January, 2005, Raymond Puffer, review of Fly-boys, p. 32.
Library Journal, March 15, 2000, William D. Bushnell, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 102; September 15, 2003, Edwin B. Burgess, review of Flyboys, p. 68.
M2 Best Books, October 24, 2003, review of Flyboys.
Military Law Review, June, 2001, W.G. Perez, review of Flags of Our Fathers, pp. 227-234.
Military Review, September-October, 2004, Robert J. Rielly, review of Flyboys, p. 115.
National Review, July 3, 2000, Gregory Orfalea, review of Flags of Our Fathers.
Naval War College Review, spring, 2001, Tom Fedyszyn, review of Flags of Our Fathers, 149. Newsweek, May 29, 2000, Kenneth Auchincloss, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 68.
New York Times, May 3, 2000, Richard Bernstein, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. E9; October 23, 2003, Janet Maslin, review of Flyboys, p. E8.
Parameters, winter, 2000, Vince Goulding, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 151.
People, May 29, 2000, “Saluting the Flag: James Bradley Unfurls the Story behind Old Glory’s Raising on Iwo Jima,” p. 87.
Philadelphia Daily News, October 20, 2006, Gary Thompson, “Author’s Dad Was Silent about Iwo.”
Philadelphia Inquirer, July 11, 2000, Sandy Bauers, review of Flags of Our Fathers.
Publishers Weekly, May 8, 2000, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 216; May 7, 2001, “Indelible Images,” p. 249; June 16, 2003, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 74; August 11, 2003, review of Flyboys, p. 273; December 22, 2003, “A Job Well Done,” p. 10.
School Library Journal, May, 2001, Andrew Medlar, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 162.
Time, June 12, 2000, R.Z. Sheppard, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 84.
Sewanee Review, fall, 2000, Clay Lewis, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 124.
Washington Post Book World, June 18, 2000, Richard Harwood, review of Flags of Our Fathers, p. 9.
James Bradley Home Page, http://www.jamesbradley.com (December 11, 2006).