James Bradley (author)
James Bradley (born 1954) is an American author, specializing in historical nonfiction chronicling the Pacific theatre of World War II. His father, John Bradley, was one of six men who became famous for being photographed raising the American flag on Mt. Suribachi. That photograph has gone on to be one of the most duplicated and reproduced photos ever taken.
In 2000, Bradley published Flags of Our Fathers, written with the author Ron Powers, which tells the story of five U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman, his dad Navy corpsman, John Bradley, raising the American flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima. In that book, which spent 46 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was made into a film directed by Clint Eastwood, Bradley took infinite care to locate and speak with family and friends who actually knew the men depicted. In doing this, he received great praise for his realistic portrayals and bringing the men involved to life. The book and the film is an in-depth look at those involved and their war-time service. Of the six men, Bradley's father John, PFC Ira Hayes, and PFC Rene Gagnon were the only ones to survive the battle. SGT Michael Strank, CPL Harlon Block, and PFC Franklin Sousley were all killed in action later on in the battle. The book and film tell the story in a before, during, and after format, and both were well received upon their release. An impromptu speech Bradley gave at the Iwo Jima memorial was transcribed by Michael T. Powers in October 2000, and widely circulated on the Internet.
In 2003 he published Flyboys: A True Story of Courage. That book tells the story of an air raid that took place during the Battle of Iwo Jima, some 150 miles away, when U.S. warplanes bombed the small communications outpost on Chichi Jima. While Iwo Jima had Japanese forces numbering 22,000, Chichi Jima's forces numbered 25,000.
Nine crewmen survived after being shot down in the raid. One was picked up by the American submarine USS Finback. That one man was then-Lieutenant George H. W. Bush, who later went on to become the forty-first President of the United States. The other eight were captured as POWs by the Japanese and were executed and eaten, a fact that remained hidden until much later. Like Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys: A True Story of Courage also topped the New York Times Bestseller list when it came out.
In 2009, he published his third New York Times best selling book, The Imperial Cruise. It concerns the 1905 diplomatic mission led by then-Secretary of War William Howard Taft and Alice Roosevelt, as well as the larger implications of President Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy, particularly with regard to Japan. The New York Times published a complimentary review, writing that "The Imperial Cruise is startling enough to reshape conventional wisdom about Roosevelt's presidency." The book exposes the blatantly racist and exploitative policy of the United States in its attempt to extend its influence into the Pacific rim, acquiring Hawaii by conquest and the Philippines by purchase from the Spanish after ostensibly having entered the conflict to aid the Filipino freedom fighters. The American occupation was marked by torture and repression of the very people they had come to help.
The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia is James' fourth book, detailing America's involvement in China since the early 19th Century during the heights of opium trade, through the conclusion of the Second World War and Mao Zedong's rise to power. The premise of the book is how the United States failed to understand Asian cultures that led to poor decision-making by policy makers in the US State Department as well as by both President Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. Ultimately, Bradley makes the suggestion that the War in the Pacific, the Korean War and the Vietnam War would have been avoided had President Franklin Roosevelt not been unduly influenced by the China Lobby that supported Chiang Kai-Shek.
Portrayal in film
James Bradley's Father, John Bradley, is featured in the 2006 Clint Eastwood movie Flags of Our Fathers, where he is played by American actor Ryan Phillippe. The movie is based on James Bradley's book of the same title.
- Flags of Our Fathers (with Ron Powers). New York: Bantam, 2000. ISBN 0-553-11133-7
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2003. ISBN 0-316-10584-8
- The Imperial Cruise: The Secret History of Empire and War Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2009. ISBN 0-316-00895-8
- The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2014. ISBN 0-316-19667-3
- "The Boys of Iwo Jima", speech by James Bradley, transcribed by Michael T. Powers. Online at Snopes.com. Also online at Michael T. Powers's site.
- "The Queasy Side of Theodore Roosevelt’s Diplomatic Voyage", by Janet Maslin, November 18, 2009.
- Lecture on The Imperial Cruise at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library
- Participant in Panel Discussion, Turning Point: 36 Days on Iwo Jima 1945 at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library
- Booknotes interview with Bradley on Flags of Our Fathers, July 9, 2000.
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