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Letters From Iwo Jima: The Japanese Eyewitness Stories That Inspired Clint Eastwood's Film

Kumiko Kakehashi

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Prose: non-fiction, History

'I started getting interested in General Kuribayashi...what kind of person was he to defend this island in such a ferocious way, but also in a very clever way by tunnelling the island and putting everything underground.' - Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood was so moved by this account of the Japanese defence of Iwo Jima that he ended up making two films in 2006. Flags of Our Fathers, based on the bestselling book of the same name, tells the story of the US Marines who raised the flag on the island in what became the iconic photograph of the war with Japan. His other film, Letter From Iwo Jima is based on Kumiko Kakehashi's heart-rending story.

Her account is based on the letters written home by the doomed soldiers on the island, mostly family men, conscripted late in the war. At the heart of the story is the maverick general Kuriyabashi, devoted family man, humanitarian and brilliant commander and the first man on the island to know they were all going to die. He fought and died to delay the Americans for as long as he could. He knew that once the island fell, it would be used as an airbase by US bombers to strike at Tokyo.

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