on 23 January 2004
James Bradley's book is an outstanding piece of historical literature, written in highly readable prose, guiding the reader through the brutality of the Pacific air campaign. Alternatively focussing on the fate and experiences of individual pilots and then stepping back to discuss the wider, strategic impact of events, he opens our eyes to the clash of cultures between the Americans and Japanese. Whilst being unapologetic about the actions of either side, he rather seeks to understand what drove individual combatants on either side to commit the acts they did. That said, Bradley is trying to balance highly readable litereary prose, written in a pseudo-fictional manner, with an attempt at portraying the facts with historical accuracy, coupled with an historians analysis of events. As such, he makes the occasional sweeping statement,in an attempt at keeping the reader enthralled, resulting in an undermining of his credibility as a serious historian. Also, although he tries hard to be balanced in his views, the balance remains (unsurprisingly) pro-American in bias. However, overall, this book provides a fascinating insight into this air war, and is particularly enlightening regarding the actions of a certain Navy flyer named George Bush. For those who know little about the Pacific War, this book is an enthralling read that is hard to put down until the last page is turned.
on 9 November 2003
This book along with its pullout sections and wonderful photos is a must for any Lennon fan. I was struck by the numbers of reproductions of Lennon memorablia that was included with the book. From lyrics to handerchiefs this book includes it all.
As well as this, there is a CD with a load of fun things on it to listen to from Mr Lennon. A bid thank-you to all who made the book and a hearty recommendation to any considering buying the book. Well worth the money!
on 21 March 2008
This terrific book is full of interest, sparkles with episodes from John's iconic life. The inserts are just spectacular - large numbers of superb reproductions of material from his school, concerts, promotional material etc etc etc. I loved it and everyone who has borrowed it from me has loved and enjoyed it, too. The CD included is XLNT.
on 5 January 2005
This book is a must have for John Lennon fans. It comes complete with copies of some of the songs, business cards, and other memoribilia from various shows. It also comes with a cd that is of an interview with John Lennon and has a live bersion of the song Imagine. This book is more than i could ask for and even has a approval from Yoko.
on 29 October 2003
Just went through the whole book. This is truly
a must. Written by an authority in the field
as well a friend of John Lennon, this book is tracing
perfectly the path of our dearly missed working class hero.
I recommend it strongly. Forget about intimate details of his personal life. In reading it, we feel we was really and closely
part of the whole history.
It inspires lot of respect for a man we still love.
on 11 November 2015
This is not your typical story about the war in the Pacific. It meshes the fate of a few aviators (or flyboys, I should say) shot down in the Pacific with a wider picture, reaching far into the past, into how United States expanded westwards and what Americans did in the Philippines, showing it in parallel with heinous Japanese crimes in China.
So what is this book? It's an insight into what makes a man in distress tick as well as what makes history as a whole tick. It will open your eyes about a number of very dark episodes, not only regarding World War 2. If you have a view of Americans as being flawless knights in shining armor, then sorry, but your view of the world will probably be shattered after reading as little as the first two chapters.
The author was obviously trying to find a good balance between reliability and readability. It has to be said that some sacrifices were made in the field of the former in favor of the latter, but it is NOT a fictionalized account. It's made to be popular history.
on 22 September 2009
I was pleasantly surprised by how excellent this book is.
Having read James Bradley's first book, Flags of Our Fathers, I was curious to read his follow-up. But Flags is such a compelling personal story - a journey to discover what happened to his father in World War Two - that I wasn't entirely confident he could achieve the same with a subject he was less directly connected to. I needn't have worried. Flyboys is not only well-researched and truly revelatory. It's also an unusually well-balanced and sensitive attempt to get to grips with the horrors of war.
Most of us are aware of the particularly gruesome nature of the war in the Pacific. But Flyboys delves into a previously untold tale that descends into levels of atrocity and barbarism that are hard to comprehend. And this is where Bradley's writing talent really comes to the fore. He doesn't just dig up the facts and tell the story remarkably clearly. He goes much further, placing the brutality in some sort of context. It's the insight and background he places the events within that takes this book to a higher level, giving the reader a grasp and understanding of otherwise incomprehensible inhumanity.
Some American reveiwers have criticised Flyboys as unpatriotic - mainly for taking the trouble to offer a Japanese perspective on the Pacific conflict. But Bradley's credentials are hard to refute. His father, after all, was one of the flag-raisers on Iwo Jima; yet he has also travelled and studied extensively in Japan, acquiring an uncommon grasp of Japanese language, culture and history. And it's this uniquely balanced sensibility that takes Flyboys well beyond the mere unearthing of a harrowing story that it might otherwise have been.
If I have one criticism of Flyboys it's that the author offers so much context and detail that the book sometimes drifts away from its core subject into much wider considerations about World War Two, it's causes, consequences and moral dilemmas. But then again this is not really a fault - it's an integral part of what makes this one of the best books about war you will ever read.
on 7 January 2004
So beautiful and totally essential for Beatles fans - like an amazing huge pop-up book for grown-ups or like those "postman" picture books where you can look at and thrill over all the little letters in the envelopes! The CD is great too and the whole package would make a fantastic present even for non-obsessives...
Cannot believe how cheap it is - possibly my favourite book that I own :o)
on 22 May 2014
I have read a lot of deeply fascinating books and this one is not only deeply fascinating but also deeply harrowing. The author expertly describes how American air power and in particular, the use of firebombing devastated Japan. He also tells in graphic detail both what it was like for Japanese civilians to suffer the effects of napalm but also what it was like for captured American airman when the Japanese got hold of them.
The book is also very much a morality tale as James Bradley explains the attitudes each side had to the other based on ignorance of each others cultures led to many of the atrocities that were committed. He also makes the point that actions considered monstrous and inhuman when committed by the enemy are somehow transformed into being heroic when committed by one's own side.
This book is both a page-turner and also very difficult to read because it is so harrowing. The most affecting parts of the book for me were hearing how the mothers and fathers of those who so brutally lost their lives had to cope with the loss. in many cases they did not even know exactly what had happened to loved ones until many years after the event.
A memorable book indeed.
Just as he did with his first book, “Flags of Our Fathers”, James Bradley has crafted another tribute to those that fought in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Iris Chang the noted author of, “The Rape of Nanking”, was instrumental in introducing the author to the material that lead to this book. This second work by Mr. Bradley shares an aspect that I also experienced reading Ms. Chang’s book, like hers it was to be one of the most disturbing and difficult books I have read. I have read enough books that document the depravity of humans during war that I would expect that I would become familiar enough with the history to no longer be shocked. I am wrong. Both of these authors have created works that I had to put down and read in stages. “Flyboys”, is a magnificent tribute to the flyers of The United States, it also documents behavior that is hard to characterize as human.
War is difficult enough to understand, atrocities that are historical in their scope and deviance require an entirely different level of effort. The author spends a great deal of time explaining the culture of Japan and the mindset toward any outsiders that the culture sought, and largely succeeded in creating. This is not to say that the Japan that created and celebrated atrocities like Nanking encompassed every member of the nation, it did not, and the author illustrates individuals who did go against what was defined as acceptable behavior. The facts remain that the circumstances that awaited Allied soldiers who faced captivity in wartime Japan included the prospect of being victims of ritual cannibalism, biologic warfare experimentation, and brutality that is almost impossible to imagine and very difficult to read. Decapitation as a sport and national interest that was followed in newspapers is a unique form of sociopathic behavior.
Mr. Bradley also covers in great detail the firebombing of Japanese cities and then relates their destruction to comparably sized metro areas in The United States. He deals with the contradictions in our early condemnation of others and our actions that later made them hypocrisy. He also deals with a subject that remains a controversial one, the use of atomic weapons. Once again, if the facts he shares about the fire bombings are viewed in the context of 1945 along with the atomic alternatives, those that wish to portray the use of the two bombs as some special type of horror have little empiric evidence to make their case with. Viewing weapons used 50 years ago with knowledge we have today remains a weak position.
This book is a tribute to those who survived the war in the Pacific and those citizens of Japan that refused to engage in behavior that is never acceptable even in war time. This book documents atrocity but it primarily celebrates the human desire to survive in the face of pure evil.