Two Flags Over Iwo Jima: Solving the Mystery of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Proudest Moment

Eric Hammel. Casemate, $29.95 (222p) ISBN 978-1-61200-629-1
In this meticulously researched volume, military historian Hammel (U.S. Marines at Khe Sanh) seeks the true story behind one of the most iconic images of American war history: the Pulitzer-winning photograph of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. (The exact circumstances and identities of the participants have long been unclear.) Drawing upon numerous historical records, Hammel reconstructs the days leading up to that event, as the 28th Marine Regiment struggled to take the strategic island from the Japanese, and the aftermath. There’s a wealth of details here; Hammel incorporates boxed mini biographies of the participants, such as Cpl. Dave Severance, who, given the choice of battalion assignments, chose the only one whose commander he knew nothing about; and civilian combat photographer Joe Rosenthal, rejected from the army’s photography program for poor eyesight, who took the legendary picture. The prose is a little dry, but Hammel expertly weaves all of these elements together to deliver an authoritative look at an event that has taken on a legendary status. “That moment on top of Mount Suribachi more than 70 years ago will still hold a special place in the hearts of Marines and in the history of the Corps regardless of who raised the flag,” he concludes, in this essential history for those wanting the truth behind the legend. Agent: Scott Meredith, Scott Meredith Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/29/2018
Release date: 09/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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