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What does society expect from a “hero” after his heroic moment has passed? How does that “hero” continue on to live a “normal” life when that one instant has been forever immortalized? Deconstructing the fall-out from that now infamous image of the six American soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima, James Bradley, son of one of the three photographed soldiers to survive the war, pieces together the after effects of that one glorious and tragic moment. Bradley explores what it means to be a “hero” in modern society, what it is to pay homage to one’s father (both the biological one and one’s country) and what the essence of the human experience of war is. He interrogates the societal constructs and burdens of myth, hero, legend, and patriotism, all of which may have destroyed some of the survivors, in a searing honesty and in well-documented detail.
Recommended for courses in the sociology of war and its effects on country, family, and the individual.
"The best battle book I ever read. These stories, from the time the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima enlisted, their training, and the landing and subsequent struggle, fill me with awe." -Stephen Ambrose
“Flags of Our Fathers is one of the most instructive and moving books on war and its aftermath that we are likely to see, in part because it is instructive and moving in unexpected ways. On one level, Mr. Bradley has composed a touching eulogy to his father, one that honors him precisely for those qualities that did not earn him fame and recognition on Iwo Jima. He has also forged an unforgettable tableau of one of the most savage battlefields in history, a battlefield of wholesale death, mutilation and waste. Beyond that he has produced an arresting meditation on the nature of heroism, the public perception of it, and the unbridgeable chasm between the two.”–The New York Times