Johnny Cash Was (At Least Partly) Wrong! Admittedly, the title of this review is mostly click-bait. But it *is* an accurate summary of this text – and yes, the text does at least briefly examine the song itself as well. Holm does a remarkable job of showing the history that created Ira Hayes, one of the six men immortalized forever in “The Photograph” of the American flag raising at Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima during the WWII battle which became the basis of so many memorials… including a not-small one in Washington, DC. As with the better history books, Holm shows the relevant histories that lead into the famous events at hand- and the biography and histories of the fallout of the events, including the various impacts to both the man Ira Hayes and the cultural icon/ touchstone Ira Hayes. Yes, including the various movies, the various incarnations of The Ballad of Ira Hayes (including the Man in Black’s), and even discussing the book The Flags of Our Fathers and its movie incarnation as well. At 22% documentation, it is reasonably well documented, and there are no overly startling revelations here – though there is perhaps much new knowledge, depending on one’s own knowledge set when coming into this book. For example, the histories of the Akimel and Apache wars and interactions, and even how they waged war (both the weapons involved and the tactics and ceremonies) was new knowledge to me – and utterly fascinating.
Overall a well told and well examined history with no obvious flaws or even any overt political diatribes, this is a book that anyone interested in a more complete tale of Ira Hayes will enjoy. Very much recommended.