Little, Brown, 2003, Approximately 143,000 words
In 1945, eight young American pilots were shot down over Chichi Jima. Seven of these officers were captured by Japanese troops and taken prisoner. The eighth, George H. W. Bush, was rescued by an American submarine -- decades later, he became president of the United States. In Flyboys, James Bradley reveals the never-before-told story of the seven brave airmen who subsequently disappeared from history. This is not only an arresting story of humans under astonishing adversity; it is the riveting account of a U.S. government cover-up that persisted for two generations.
( This is not a book about how great America was or how bad Japan was. It's a book about how bad war is.Collapse )
Verdict: I thought Flyboys would be a history of air power and the Pacific War, but it's more like an indictment of just how incredibly fucked up and horrible war is for everyone. It's a hard read, because there is a lot of rape, torture, and slaughter, and the only happy ending is the end of the war. But I think James Bradley told this story in about as even-handed a manner as possible, so you'll get plenty of history (yes, he does talk about airplanes, Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Doolittle's raids) along with a brutal deconstruction of everything "glorious" about war.