Tom McGraham is very proud to have served his country and the Marine Corps, but he humbly tells his story in The Road to Iwo Jima. I see him as a hero, but I doubt that he would call himself one. I appreciate the quote that Jerry Yellin (Iwo Jima survivor and author) has put on the back of Mr. McGraham's book: "Tom thought about home every day of the twelve days he was on Iwo before he was wounded and he has thought about Iwo Jima nearly every day of his life since the war ended." This book is Tom's story about those twelve days, and quick glimpses of where life's journey has taken him beyond Iwo Jima to the year 2010 when he attended a 65th anniversary of the landing on Iwo Jima in Washington, DC. Mr. McGraham states: "I felt an overwhelming sense of closure at last. However, I will always respect and honor all the Marines who died for our country."
This book is a tribute to all who have served our country, and we should be grateful to people like Mr. Graham who took the time and effort to put their stories into print for us. Many of us can not even begin to imagine what our fellow countrymen have experienced and how they have had to carry that with them the rest of their lives. The first half of The Road to Iwo Jima tells us the brutal story of the twelve days Mr. McGraham spent on the island and the last half of the book he calls "The Return from Iwo Jima."
This book is a quick read but gives us a window on the days of Iwo Jima, not a window that we all would want to see through, but I feel it is honoring to "see into" this time and realize how this history has impacted so many lives. We don't have a lot of time left with these heroes so people like Tom McGraham have given us a gift by taking the time and going through the pain of writing their stories and sharing them with others. For those readers like me who are not history buffs, the footnotes that Mr. McGraham added are very helpful in that he doesn't assume that all of his readers will have that background knowledge. Readers who enjoy learning more about our history through memoirs and/or appreciate the real-life journeys of American heroes would want to read The Road to Iwo Jima.
Reviewed by: Joyce Gilmour (2010)
Tom McGraham joined the Marines the day after Pearl Harbor. Throughout the next few years, he served in the Caribbean, but after he participates in the capture of a German Submarine crew, he is reassigned to the 4th Division in Hawaii. With his new buddies, he trains for some unknown but obviously big assault to come. It's not until he is on the ship, that he learns they are headed for Iwo Jima. This book is the story of that fateful event in his life -- and the years afterward.