Imperial Cruise (Bradley)

About the Author 

Where—Wisconsin, USA
Education—B.A., University of Wisconsin

In his words
I was born in Wisconsin surrounded by a loving family of ten and loved swimming in cold lakes. When I was a boy I read an article by former president Harry Truman recommending that young people read historical biographies. He said it was easy to follow the storyline of a historical figure's life, and you'll learn the surrounding history on the journey.

When I was thirteen years old I read an article by James Michener in Reader's Digest which I paraphrase: "When you're twenty-two and graduate from college, people will ask you, 'What do you want to do?' It's a good question, but you should answer it when you're thirty-five." Michener explained that his experiences wandering the globe as a young man later inspired his books on Afghanistan, Spain, Japan and other places.

When I was nineteen years old, I lived and studied in Tokyo for one year. I later brought my Japanese friends home to Wisconsin. My father, John Bradley, had helped raise an American flag on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima and had shot a Japanese soldier dead. John Bradley welcomed my friends to our home.

I traveled around the world when I was twenty-one, from the U.S. to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, England and back to the United States.

At twenty-three I graduated with a degree in East Asian history from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

For the next twenty years I worked in the corporate communications industry in the United States, Japan, England and South Africa.

In my late thirties I took a year off to go around the world again. On this trip I made it to base camp on Mt. Everest and walked among lions in Africa.

My father died when I was forty years old. My search to find out why he didn't speak about Iwo Jima led me to write Flags of Our Fathers and establish the James Bradley Peace Foundation. (From the author's website.)

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. Bradley tells the story in a before, during, and after format, and both book and film 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 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. The book 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 wrote 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. ("More" from Wikipedia.)

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