5.0 out of 5 stars
Informative, sad, and heartwarming, June 15 2001
I knew the battle for Iwo Jima was horrific in terms of casualties, but I never knew the reasons why the island had to be taken. Bradley's book explains the history of the battle, and how the marines prepared. We learn that the 5th Marine Division was put together at Camp Pendleton, and trained for six months specifically for the battle of Iwo. But what makes Bradley's work so great are the names, faces, and personal histories of these six men who, in 1/400th of a second, became a permanent fixture in the memory of millions of Americans.
History becomes more interesting and relevant when we learn about the people who actually made the history. Bradley, whose father served on Iwo Jima as a Navy Corpsman, never talked of the battle, in part because of modesty, and in part because of of one event in particular that truly disturbed him. So modest, infact, that he never told his family of his being awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on Iwo Jima.
The reader learns about six ordinary boys growing up in geographically diverse parts of the country. Telling the story of each boyhood is so important because it tells us who these men were, and what they were like. The hardships of growing up in the great depression, the childhood pranks, the awkwardness of being around girls, and the pride of being marines. Bradley captures it all.
It's history and story telling. It's anecdotal. Funny at times, and painfully sad. Bradley's work shows us that behind pivotal events, such as the battle of Iwo Jima (aka Sulphur Island), there are ordinary boys who, once you get to know them, are truly extraordinary. Books like this are so important because with the passing of each person who lived through these events goes another chance to learn. Instead of going to see the movie "Pearl Harbor", read this book, then you'll understand why the people of this era are called the greatest generation.