James Bradley: The Man Who Celebrated Iwo Jima Flag-Raisers Writes Like Howard Zinn

Historians in the News

Michael P. Tremoglie, a free-lance journalist, writing in frontpagemag.com (Jan. 13, 2004):

Flyboys by James Bradley is supposedly about eight pilots who were captured and killed by the Japanese during WWII while trying to destroy the Japanese radio stations on the island of Chichi Jima. However, the book is actually an indictment of American culture, history, and foreign policy along the lines of Howard Zinn. Rife with the usual politically correct canards about American history, Flyboys mentions the"ethnic cleansing" of the Native Americans, the extermination of Filipino civilians from 1899-1902 and the annexation of Hawaii by"bayonet.” In addition, it claims that our policies towards Japan were actually responsible for Pearl Harbor. Bradley's book is not so much an account of events that took place during World War II as it is a forum for the author's views on the historical and cultural circumstances that caused them.

For example, Bradley recounts the atrocities of American troops in the Philippines but only tells part of the truth. He lists a cartoon about General Jacob Smith—who ordered Filipino civilians executed—forgetting to mention that Smith was court-martialed as a result. Tellingly, Bradley primarily uses only one book about the Philippine War for his source: Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines by Stuart Creighton Miller. This book condemned U.S. policies in the Philippines as despotic imperialism and suggested that the U.S. was a ruthless, imperialistic nation, no different from the Japanese who destroyed Nanking.

As a reference about the history of American involvement in the Philippines, Bradley could have used The Philippine War by Brian McAllister Linn. Publisher's Weekly wrote of Linn's book:

"Without justifying the annexation itself, Linn demonstrates that the Filipino nationalists enjoyed at best limited popular support and did as much as the U.S. commanders in the islands to provoke a shooting war as an alternative to negotiation…As Linn shows, however, military success was only half of the war. Civic action was the other element…The Americans built hospitals, opened schools and restored order. When necessary, they sustained that order with punitive measures…If the U.S. annexation of the Philippines was an exercise in imperialism, Linn makes a convincing case that by 1902, the U.S. government of the island was nevertheless legitimate both de jure and de facto. For an increasing majority of Filipinos, the Americans had become preferable to the insurgents."

But then this is the antipodes of Bradley's thesis. The truth is that while we inherited an empire after the Spanish–American War, it was a controversial inheritance to say the least. Indeed, Williams Jennings Bryan used anti-imperialism as a plank in his platform during the 1900 election. We were reluctant imperialists, who made every effort to dissolve the empire we inherited – that is, if you call paying $20 million of taxpayers' money to Spain for territory we captured from them an inheritance.

About the Native Americans, Bradley writes that we engaged in"ethnic cleansing." Has Bradley ever read the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the Supreme Court case of Worcester v. Georgia, or the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 whereby we established pensions, native control of lands, and funding of education, medical care, etc. for Native Americans? This is what Bradley calls ethnic cleansing?

Bradley also repeats the oxymoronic, liberal prevarication that we stole the Western United States from Mexico after the Mexican-American War. This claim is specious for two reasons.

First, the United States paid Mexico $15,000,000 cash and assumed some $3,250,000 more in claims of American citizens on the Mexican government. When one considers that Great Britain, France, or Russia might have taken California at any moment; and that the American troops were in possession of the Mexican capital, the terms offered Mexico were very generous. Indeed, then-President James Polk was urged by many to annex the whole country of Mexico to the United States. [1]

The second reason this claim is specious is the same reason that it is oxymoronic. If we stole California, New Mexico and Texas from the Mexicans, did not the Mexicans steal this land from the Native Americans? It certainly was not their land. They annexed it after declaring independence from Spain. However, Spain stole it from the Native Americans. So how could Mexico claim it was their land to annex?

As for Hawaii, The United States did not foment a revolution there. In fact, according to one source," in 1893; there were simply subjects of the kingdom who objected strongly to the willful ways of their queen — she announced she was going to install a new constitution, take away the voting rights of certain taxpayers and appoint all the members of one of the two houses of government. They said no way and removed her from office in a virtually bloodless coup. The U.S. played a minimal role, pointing no guns, firing no bullets. And even that role was denounced very quickly by President Cleveland, making clear the U.S. itself was not interested in taking over the kingdom" [2] Yes, there was a Bayonet Constitution in 1887. However, the U.S. was not involved, and that government was replaced by a royal Hawaiian government and a new constitution.

When writing about World War II, Bradley is equally hypercritical of America, citing the usual liberal history. About the embargo of the Japanese, Bradley states that it was America's fault—ignoring completely the atrocity of Nan King and the invasion of China. He says that America committed imperialist acts; therefore, we should not have condemned Japan. Bradley also cites the usual canard of racism. But he contradicts himself on that count, because he then says we helped China.

Bradley loves to mention atrocities or barbarities by our military against the Japanese. He uses the standard liberal canard that this was unique to the Pacific theater because of American racism. In Bradley's view, the European theater did not have the atrocities committed by Americans because Germans were more like us. Bradley mentions on page 138 how American soldiers killed Japanese more enthusiastically then they killed Germans and Italians. He cites on the same page how one Marine was instructed at Peleliu that no prisoners were to be taken.

Apparently, he did not research such action in Europe, where there was the Biscari massacre of Italian soldiers and the Canicatti slaughter of Italian civilians. [3] There have been books written how 700 SS POW's were killed by American troops and at Dachau 300 German soldiers were summarily executed.

Bradley also claims Americans applauded Japanese internment (p. 137). He cites testimony of general who said that Italians and Germans could be trusted, but “a Jap is a Jap.” This was from the book Lewis and Steele Hell in the Pacific , which was written in 1992, when it was not commonly known that Germans and Italians were also interned. This point renders Bradley once again subject to his own liberal revisionist history. Germans and Italians were interned during WWII, and Germans and Austro-Hungarians during WWI. Therefore, Bradley's premise that there was a special or unique hatred of Japanese as evidenced by internment or not taking prisoners is bogus.

But in Bradley's world, the Doolittle Raid was a war crime. He claims schools and hospitals were bombed and innocent civilians were killed. He cites the elementary schools destroyed and the students killed. Pearl Harbor was a military installation, Bradley says, Tokyo was not.

As Japan's capital, there were military installations in Tokyo–not to mention military industries. As far as innocent civilians are concerned, there were many killed at Pearl Harbor. Among the innocent civilians were Nancy Masako Arakaki, age 8 and Robert Yoshito Hirasaki, age 3. They were by no means the only such casualties.

Our military did not conduct anymore ruthless, barbarous or deadly a war against Japan than it did against Germany. German cities, like Dresden, were bombed and incinerated. In fact, more civilians were killed in Dresden (135, 000) [4] than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. In addition, 2,000 Italian civilians were killed in the first air raid of Rome in July 1943.

All this was done for a purpose–to end the war.

Flyboys is the second book by James Bradley, whose first book, Flags of Our Fathers , about the Marines who planted the flag at Iwo Jima, was a bestseller. Bradley is the son of one of the flag-planters.

Originally from Wisconsin, Bradley holds a degree in East Asian History from the University of Wisconsin. During his college days, he lived in Japan with an 18-year-old Japanese woman. Bradley is also president of an eponymous nonprofit peace foundation,"which fosters understanding between America and Asia. The foundation sends American students to Japan and China to study."

One can understand Bradley's sympathy towards Japanese culture because of his experiences. And this is not to say that our country is not without sin. However, Bradley's version of history is tendentious and fallacious. The fact that the United States Navy awarded Bradley its civilian medal because of his book, and that Flyboys was endorsed by W.E.B. Griffin, who is not a “Blame America First” liberal, is rather odd.

Could it be that my perspective is skewed? Possibly, my experiences with public schools and colleges have made me aware of the liberal bias among educators–especially historians. As a result, I may sometimes perceive bias where there is none.

My wife, however, is apolitical. During those rare occasions that she does comment on a subject of a political nature, her Mount Holyoke/University of Pennsylvania education is apparent by the liberalism of her opinions. However, she read several pages of this book, and even she was appalled by its unwarranted and specious criticism of America.

When Bradley finally writes about the events on Chichi Jima and the pilots, the book is a good one. Unfortunately, his partisan perspective of history detracts from the book itself. Consequently it is neither enlightening nor entertaining, and does not accomplish what Bradley said he wanted to: tell why the execution of the Chichi Jima pilots occurred and why no mention was ever made to the men's families.


[1] http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/muzzey.html

[2] http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/annexation.html ret fm w/s 1-4-03

[3] http://www.ausa.org/www/armymag.nsf/(reviews)/200212?OpenDocument ret f/m w/s 1-4-03

[4] http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=832 ret fm w/s 1-4-03

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More Comments:

Paul Walsh - 2/8/2009

As I am coming upon this "review" some 5 years on my comments are about as irrelevant as Mr. Tremoglie's, but I couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Tremoglie actually read the entire book. Writing about a work as significant as "Flyboys", it's unfortunate that he falls into the tired trap of throwing the word "liberal" around.

I won't bother citing references from the book which pay great tribute to these brave men & applaud their heroism, sacrifices & colorful histories - including former President George H.W. Bush.

This one line comment from Mr. Tremoglie - "The fact that the United States Navy awarded Bradley its civilian medal because of his book, and that Flyboys was endorsed by W.E.B. Griffin, who is not a “Blame America First” liberal, is rather odd." , inserted randomly between useless commentary about the author, and more useless commentary about Mr. Tremoglie's own wife, is telling in itself.

Could it be that your perspective is skewed, Mr. Tremoglie? Or could it be that the United States Navy and W.E.B. Griffin have skewed perspectives, lacking the rare insight that you gained your vast experience in public schools and colleges? Or could it be that just fancy yourself a political pundit so much that you completely missed the mark with this incredible read?

What's saddest of all about your pitiful "review" is that it pays not one word of respect or remembrance to the boys who did give their lives in this particular campaign.

FYI, none other than that great liberal, George H.W. Bush himself has included this book on his recommended reading list. Rather odd, isn't it?

Richard William Gaines - 4/17/2005

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

An Open Letter To Clint Eastwood

I see by recent news articles that you are to be involved in a new film regarding the raising of our flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. I have wondered if this is going to be yet another of the usual party line accounts, or if this one will finally be an in-depth full story and truth of that event in our history.

Since it is you involved this time, I expect the latter could be the case, and I think it's worth a shot to attempt to bring the following information to your attention in hopes that the story of Marine Ray Jacobs, and others, might finally be brought to the attention of the American public in a way that is worthy of both the event and the men themselves.

Jacobs is one of the known remaining survivors, along with Chuck Lindberg, of Lt. Schrier's 40-man combat patrol up Suribachi that day to raise our colors over the Japanese homeland. I am referring here to the earlier first (so-called) flag raising--not the later raising of a replacement flag that was photographed by Joe Rosenthal (and was also shot by Sgt Bill Genaust on motion-picture film as well)--and which quickly, and incorrectly, became famous as the Iwo Jima flag raising well-known to all. The actual flag raising was photographed earlier that same day by Marine S/Sgt Lou Lowery, and is not nearly so well-known. Even today, nearly sixty years after the battle for Iwo Jima, a number of facts are still in question, and the emphasis of the flag raising itself remains on the replacement flag and not the original flag raised.

Jacobs' own recent Eyewitness Account and photos describing the flag raising, as well as other information, may be viewed here...
Eyewitness Account...

Ray Jacobs may be reached at the following E-Mail address...


Hoping this finds its way to your eyes. Thank you for your kind attention.

(From Ray Jacobs ray1jacobs@msn.com)

Fri, 13 Aug 2004 15:49:22 -0700

To bring you up to date..About two months ago I contacted James Ebert,a Forensic Photo Analyst.I asked him to examine the Lou Lowery pictures taken during the first flag raising on Iwo Jima and to compare them with pictures of me taken in and around the same time period.

Ebert is the same analyst who proved to Colonel Dave Severance that Gerald Zeihme was pictured in Joe Rosenthal's so called "Gung Ho" picture of the group of Marines and Corpsmen waving around the flag on Mt.Suribachi.

His has unassailable credentials in this field.

Attached you will find his report to me in the form of a letter.You may use the letter as you wish.

Thanks for your patience.

Semper Fi,Ray



(505) 344-2345
Facsimile (505) 344-2444
e-mail: jebert@ebert.com
Website: www.ebert.com

August 9, 2004

Raymond Jacobs
1432 Mt. Diablo Circle
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Dear Ray:

Thank you for trusting me with your photographs, which I have spent some time analyzing. As you know, I am a forensic photogrammetrist and have considerable experience in making and evaluating identifications of individuals depicted in photographs, video, and other sorts of images. In making comparisons of individuals in such images, I use digital image processing to optimize the visibility of facial and other details, to examine them closely, and sometimes also use digital imaging and mapping techniques to make comparative measurements.

When you first sent me copies of the photographs taken by Sgt. Lou Lowery on February 23, 1945 at the first flag raising atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, and other photographs of you taken at various times, I explained to you in some detail my professional “philosophy” regarding the identification of individuals in photographs. Identifications and comparisons of individuals depicted in images are sometimes difficult or impossible for a number of reasons. Many different people look very much the same, and conversely, a single “known” individual can look quite different in photographs taken even a short time apart. Differences in the resolution and the conditions under which photographs were taken often make comparisons difficult too, and in my experience high quality, original negatives or photo prints, especially for older photos, are almost never available.

When I make comparisons of individuals in photographs and other images, I always look first for “unique” identifying patterns, such things as patterns of freckles or moles, distinctive scars, broken or crooked teeth, or other things that would be exceedingly unlikely to occur in two separate individuals. I did not find any such unique patterns in the photographs you sent me. As you suggested to me, the young Ray Jacobs didn’t have any such facial “defects,” but even if he had they might very well have been undetectable because of the quality and resolution of the photographs, particularly the Lowery photographs you obtained from Leatherneck Magazine, which upon close inspection I have concluded are some sort of photomechanical or at least multi-generational photo copies.

Given images like that, what I would do to illustrate that the radioman on Mt. Suribachi in the Lowery pictures is you would be just what you already did in your “Eyewitness Account” book: to scale and juxtapose comparable photos known to be you next to the Lowery pictures and note the similarities. And the similarities between the “known” Ray Jacobs in the photos you sent me, and the radioman in Lowery’s Mt. Suribachi photos, are striking.

Just as important, however, is the lack of dissimilarities, which brings me to the culmination of my professional philosophy regarding identifications of individuals from photographs. First, I do not think any suggestion of a “positive identification” can or should be made based on any single type of physical evidence, be it photographic comparisons, fingerprints, bite marks, or whatever, particularly in any legal case. In cases such as the identification of Ray Jacobs as the radioman on Mt. Suribachi, however, a second line of reasoning is, I think, more germane: whether, given the physical evidence that is available – i.e. the photographs – there is any reason to believe that the radioman is not Ray Jacobs.

And based on the photographic evidence I have seen, there isn’t. One way to state my conclusion is that if I were given the photos you sent, and the Lowery photos, and asked to try to illustrate that the radioman was not Ray Jacobs, I could not do so. Another way to state this conclusion is that, based on my experience in the identification of individuals in photographs, and on my examination of the photos you sent that we know are you, when I look at the radioman in the Lowery photographs I am looking at Ray Jacobs.

I also need to comment here in regard to the Lowery photo of the radioman from behind, looking out to sea, and the markings on his canteen cover. Given the data I have, a chemical photo print sent to me by Colonel Dave E. Severance, USMC (Ret), and a digital version of the same image sent by Colonel W. G. Ford, USMC (Ret), the editor of Leatherneck Magazine, I can easily conclude that the radioman is the same individual as that depicted in the other Lowery photos, but I cannot decipher the name on the canteen cover. When one can’t unambiguously read printing or writing in a photo, image processing techniques will not “magically” recover details that aren’t inherent in the image. In such a case everyone, including me, is reduced to simply guessing. And when I do this, I see what looks to me like seven characters, spelling out something like “Cachall,” or “Gachall,” or perhaps “Gabrial.”

In a number of past forensic cases in which objects or details were just too “fuzzy” in a photograph to allow unambiguous identification, I have used an essentially reverse technique of making an image of an exemplar object and intentionally blurring and otherwise distorting the image of the exemplar to make it comparable to the fuzzy image. If the printing on the radioman’s canteen cover were stencilled and the same kind of stencil could be located, such a reverse imaging technique might be used to further contentions of what the printing said. Based on the photographic data I have examined, however, it wouldn’t change my opinion that the radioman shown in the Lowery photos taken on Mt. Suribachi is Ray Jacobs.


James I. Ebert, PhD
Certified Photogrammetrist (ASPRS)
Fellow, American Academy of Forensic Sciences


Semper Fidelis
Dick Gaines

Source: GyG's OSMT Forum

Viewers, please post/forward all hands.

Christopher Riggs - 8/1/2004

Thank you for your reply.

Tremoglie's attack on the Bradley book includes a number of assertions that are misleading or false. My pointing that out isn't a distortion of Tremoglie's argument. If Tremoglie's accounts of history are wrong, then that undercuts his thesis that Bradley's work is inaccurate.

Doex's quote actually supports my interpretation. It points out that Mexican troops were stationed along the south of the Rio Grande--in an area that was in *Mexico*. Polk sent Taylor across the Nueces River into *disputed* territory claimed by both the USA and Mexico. Sending military forces into area whose ownership is contested is a provocative action by any reasonable standard.

Doex can cry "disingenuous" all he wishes. Given that the only evidence he provides for his claim is an unattributed quote that actually bolsters my argument, I stand by my critique of Tremoglie.

Joe Doex - 6/13/2004

Inteelectually dishonest does not begin to describe your criticism. You completely distrot Tremoglie's argument which is that Bradley only mentions that which indicts American history and does not tell the complete truth.

FOr example you say that the US sent troops and provoled Mexico. This is only an interpretation not fact. This quote about the incident tells what occurred differently:
**The massing of Mexican troops on the southern bank of the Rio Grande, coupled with the refusal of the Mexican government to receive Slidell, led President Polk to order General Zachary Taylor to move to the borders. Taylor marched to the Rio Grande and fortified a position on the northern bank. The Mexican and the American troops were thus facing each other across the river. When Taylor refused to retreat to the Nueces, the Mexican commander crossed the Rio Grande, ambushed a scouting force of 63 Americans, and killed or wounded 16 of them**

The rest of your criticisms of Tremoglie are as equally disingenuous.

Christopher Riggs - 1/29/2004

This piece stands out as one of the most misleading and intellectually dishonest that I have ever seen. Permit me to offer just a few examples.

Tremoglie attacks Bradley's use of the term "ethnic cleansing" to describe United States treatment of Native Americans, implying instead that American policy was humane and benevolent. Tremoglie cites as evidence the Supreme Court's ruling in _Worcester v. Georgia_ (1832). _Worcester_ stands out as an important case, in that it acknowledged that tribes possessed inherent sovereignty that protected them from state interference and affirmed that the federal government, not states, had jurisdiction over Indian affairs. It did not "give" tribes land or pensions, as Tremoglie suggests.

Tremoglie fails also to note that the case grew out of the Indian removal policy of the 19th century. That policy resulted in the often-forced removal of all or part of dozens of tribes from their homelands in the East to the Indian Territory and almost certainly was the policy Bradley had in mind when he referred to “ethnic cleansing.” Tremoglie may question Bradley’s phrasing, but his refusal to even mention the policy while dismissing Bradley's use of the term “ethnic cleansing” and while discussing a case that grew out of Indian removal is intellectually dishonest.

Tremoglie states that the United States "inherited" an overseas empire from Spain in 1898. Such an assertion is extremely misleading, as it implies Americans were passive recipients of Spanish colonies. The reality is that the McKinley Administration *chose* to fight a war with Spain in 1898, and *chose* to take direct or indirect control of Spain’s colonies as a result of that war. The McKinley administration then *chose* to crush the Filipino nationalist movement in the Philippine-American War and rule the Philippines as a colony.

The account of the Mexican Cession emphasizes the payments the United States agreed to make to Mexico for California and New Mexico. It, however, conveniently ignores the fact that the Polk Administration launched a war against Mexico in order to acquire that land—a war it helped provoke by sending troops into the disputed area between the Rio Grande and Nueces Rivers. The fact that Polk resisted calls for taking “all of Mexico” did not reflect generosity but rather a desire to insure the Mexican War’s end before the 1848 elections.

As for the treatment of the Japanese, Italians, and Germans in the United States during World War II, Tremoglie conveniently neglects to mention that Italian and German internments were selective, reflecting FBI investigations indicating that these individuals might pose a threat to the war effort. By contrast all of the Japanese in the West Coast States were 1st excluded from those states and then interned. Such actions were openly justified on the basis of race. If Tremoglie doubts this, he might actually want to try reading the public statements of officials like Henry Stimson and Earl Warren.

I should note that I have not read _Flyboys_. But based on Tremoglie’s blatantly misleading and intellectually dishonest account of American history, I certainly wouldn’t place much stock in Tremoglie’s review of Bradley’s work.