A Report on Flyboys: a true story of courageThe flyboys themselves are only part of this work. Bradley actually discusses not just the flyboy’s stories, but all the major events leading to their fateful capture.One major flaw in his work is that he tackles the issue of morality regarding the wartime horrors that occurred; he makes judgements on things that he does not have experience in; his mind could not possibly recreate the proper context in which to make such judgements. Bradley, it seems, tries to and becomes too sensitive in parts of his work.In his accounts, the author tries mostly to be unbiased; in some areas he succeeds, while in others his work is marred by his attempts to be “nice”. Bradley insists on an equivalence in the justifiability of Japanese and American atrocities during World War II, and implies the injustice of the American atrocities committed on the Japanese.
The Americans were seen as devils by the Japanese, and Bradley implies that this sentiment of the Japanese is justifiable, in spite of the also great atrocities of the Japanese themselves—the rape, torture, cannibalism, etc.Bradley’s assertion that the United States was ultimately the cause of Japan’s atrocities are mere conjecture presented as fact. He tries to justify Japanese behavior during the war, instead of merely presenting it. The author is merely trying to be “fair” in his treatment of the Americans and Japanese, but in doing so he becomes misdirected. Such judgments should be beyond the scope of Bradley’s work (and experience).
The Japanese atrocities were brought about by official directives, compared to the American atrocities, which were more of the spontaneous kind, a reaction to the Japanese inhumanity. Bradley’s comparisons seem out of context, as these seem to imply justifiability as a result of equivalence. It is probably more correct to say that Americans and Japanese do not bear equal guilt; if it is a matter of casualty count, the Japanese are clearly the more horrendous.
The horrors committed by the Japanese are candidly presented, however, and it is clarified once and for all that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justifiable to some extent, as it was likely the only way to put and end to very costly war.Despite all that, his attempts to be unbiased is commendable, a refreshing change from the usual patriotic pro-American diatribe. Bradley is able to demonstrate the human aspect of warfare; the Americans and Japanese are shown in almost equally appalling situations. At the same time, one is also driven to sympathize, at some points, with the Americans and Japanese. This kind of treatment, rather than the hackneyed approach of history textbooks, makes for a fuller appreciation of war’s more complex points.Bradley is able to provide a good explanation of Japanese and American behavior, where the Japanese are shown to have patterned their behavior upon Americans, to some extent, regarding colonization and all its finer aspects. Bradley affirms that it is normal to regard the enemy as “bad,” while one’s own atrocities are justified.I feel that some things were overemphasized, but in the end, Flyboys is a worthwhile read.
The reader is presented with examples of atrocities of war committed by all sides, and it turns out that no side can claim to be in the absolute right. A lesson from the book, or at least a reminder of something everyone knows, is that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”