Ira Hayes

Ira Hayes by Tom Holm

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Ira Hayes:

An example of someone who never wanted the limelight.

Quick synopsis:

The story of Ira Hayes, one of the marines to raise the American Flag at Iwo Jima.

Fact for Non-History People:

We didn’t have the right names of the men who raised the flag until 2019.

Fact for History Nerds:

27 men were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions at Iwo Jima.

My Take on Ira Hayes:

Sometimes, if you want to right a wrong, you need to write a book.

Tom Holm attempts to do so in his book, “Ira Hayes” about the American Indian Marine who was one of the six to raise the American flag at Iwo Jima. Holm tries to rescue Hayes from the popular portrayal of the “drunk Indian” stereotype and put him in the context of trauma, heroism, cultural trauma, and PTSD.

To properly give my two cents on this work, I actually have to jump to the end of the book in Holm’s Afterword. As I read through the narrative, I felt like I was picking up on cues about Holm’s own viewpoint. Generally, with authors who are detached from their subjects, you can’t always tell what they are thinking. Holm does not write like that. You can actually feel every searing indictment as he expounds upon the treatment of American Indians and Veterans back from war.

If you are looking for a dispassionate biography of Ira Hayes, then this book is probably not from you. Honestly, I don’t think that’s who Holm is writing for anyway. Holm himself in his Afterword calls out his own struggle to stay unprejudiced as he is an American Indian and Veteran himself who has his own journey with PTSD. (Full disclosure: I am an Iraq War Veteran with PTSD.) I believe it made this book better having an author who was invested in righting a wrong. Most importantly, I think he was successful in re-framing how we think about Ira Hayes.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Twelve Books.)


An interesting reevaluation of a historic figure. Buy it here!

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2 responses to “Ira Hayes by Tom Holm”

    1. Brendan Dowd Avatar
      Brendan Dowd

      Love that you love this!

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