Flags of our Fathers shows what happened after a momentous photo


Joe Rosenthal

The original photo of the Flag raising

The movie trailer for Flags of our Father in 2006

If I had to pick a book to call marvelous it would be “Flags of our Fathers” by James Bradley. I was intrigued by this book when I saw the cover. The way this book is structured makes it hard for you to put down.


This book is about James (the author) finding his father’s old photographs from World War II. That photo was the iconic image of the six flag raisers putting up the second flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. James’s father was John Bradley, one of the six flag raisers. James tells the stories of his father and the other soldiers: Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Harlon Block, and Franklin Sousley. He gathers their backstories before and after the war by interviewing their family members.

This book is like any other book with war in it. It doesn’t just have all action for every part from beginning to end, it gives the reader a background like any movie or book. It gives a reason to care for the character, like “Saving Private Ryan” which takes place in the same time period, but in a different setting. It is also based off a true story.


The book shows were James finds the photograph and leads to tell a little biography of each flag bearer. Then comes the main part of the story. The transition from the battlefield to home is a good as it gets to excite you for the next part of the book. The way James formats the book and tells the story is a good type of simple storytelling; not complicated or confusing to point to where you don’t care about the characters or the story. 


The book touches on important topics and while it doesn’t point them out directly, it does enough for the reader to get the point. Things like post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and the effects of the veterans after being discovered from the photograph. Those types of topics give a view of how those veterans were feeling or at least an idea, for we don’t truly how they were feeling. 

A picture of the author James Bradley

The description of the bodies on the ground, the almost invisible enemy, and the letters home that were shown gave me a feeling of how those soldiers survived on the island. The book gave a descriptive look at how the lay of the land felt both in battle and what came after. The way James includes all of that gave me a reason to not put down the book.


The book Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley would be a fabulous book for anyone interested in Iwo Jima or interested in war or types of battles. This book is an amazing read. I would watch the movie version if I could.