November 2, 2016
Kelly’s Thoughts On Things
[re Wilber’s War (abridged)]
by Angie Wagg
Wilber’s War gives us a detail of what was going on that led up to December 7th. 2016 is the 75th anniversary of a “date which will live in infamy” the attack on Pearl Harbor. Which thrust America into World War II, those events forever changed our nation.
And for the Bradt family it marked the beginning of their family’s demise. And now Hale Bradt has decided to share the love letters that his father wrote to his mother. Not only did he write love letters to his wife at home he documented the war in open and honest letters home.
This book was turned into a movie for TV. [Not so, as of this posting – hb]
I have never served or fought in war, so I can never truly understand how the soldiers feel when they come back home. My husband is a retired disabled veteran and loves reading books written by and about other veterans. He understood the reality of combat, the invisible wounds of war. The struggle of what it takes to try to adjust when you come home. How hard it was on his wife at the time when he came home and their life just wasn’t the same. He could understand and feel what he felt. How hard it can be on kids when you are deployed for a long time.
My husband did not put this book down until he finished it. I could tell that it touched him and brought of many memories of his own. At times he just dropped his head and times I think I saw a tear fall. For someone like him who understand war this was a very accurate description of what happens when our loved ones defend our freedom. For me, a civilian, it opened my eyes and gave me an insight into what our military go through to protect us.
On Point, The Journal of Army History
Spring 2016, Vol. 21 No. 4, p. 56
Reviewer: First Lieutenant Jonathan Bratten
[Bold-faced emphasis by hb]
It is rare to find a work of military history that encompasses both the spheres of war and that of the family left behind, yet this is exactly what Hale Bradt captures in Wilber’s War. World War II dragged on for four long years, and it took its toll on both the individuals caught up in the conflict and their families back in the States. Bradt’s work was born out of years of individual research and analysis of his father’s letters. What resulted is three volumes encompassing one of the best summaries of the American wartime experience from 1941 to 1945.
Bradt’s father, Wilber, is the main subject of the work. Wilber was an unlikely warrior: a chemistry professor from Indiana who joined the National Guard as an officer before the war. He moved to Maine from Washington State with his wife Norma and their children to take a position teaching chemistry at the University of Maine. As part of the process, he transferred to the Maine National Guard’s 152d Field Artillery Regiment. In 1941, this unit’was called up to active duty for one year as part of the 43d Division, to take part in the Louisiana and Carolina Maneuvers. After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the division’s orders were extended indefinitely, beginning the Bradt family’s saga through World War II.
Readers follow the story through Wilber’s extensive and detailed letter writing to his family, and their letters back to him. It is here that Wilber’s journey through the blood and carnage of the Pacific begins. Serving with the field artillery through the Solomon Islands, Wilber witnessed jungle warfare firsthand and put it into living detail in his letters home. As commander of the 152d Field Artillery Battalion in 1945, Wilber led his men during the invasion of Luzon, bringing his guns forward with the first infantry waves. By the end of the war, he commanded the 172d Infantry Regiment, a significant achievement for an artilleryman. Wilber was a humble man, and only makes casual mention of his Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars. His letters, combined with narration from his son, give a unique and honest view of the war on the ground.
The war left scars on the home front, as well, as Bradt relates. In astonishing frankness, he tells the story of his mother’s affair that left her pregnant, and how she tried to keep it from her children by sending them off to summer camps and boarding schools. It is a story of human beings, flawed as they are, making the best out of incredibly trying circumstances in wartime.
War does not end when service members return home. Wilber was evidently suffering from his experiences, as Bradt relates the day when he heard that his father took his own life, shortly after coming home. It is a heartbreaking story, but one with contemporary application when one considers the suicide rate amongst veterans today.
Each of the three volumes is broken into three parts: the first outlining the family’s pre-war life, the second with combat in 1943 to 1944, and the last book concluding with the campaign on Luzon, Wilber’s return home, and the tragedy of his death. Hale Bradt operates as the narrator, providing historical background and his own personal memories. He did extensive research, travelling to many of the places his father was in combat, and interviewing his father’s comrades. He even spoke with one of the Japanese commanders who fought • against his father. Each volume is replete with photographs, operational maps, and Wilber’s own sketches. It is a gold mine for those interested in the war in the Pacific, specifically the operations of the 43d Infantry Division.
Students of history and casual readers alike will be drawn in by Bradt’s engaging and personal style of writing. The story will bring appreciation for all that our veterans and their families have endured.
The Journal of Military History
Vol. 80, No. 1, p. 187, January 2016
Copyright © 2016 by The Society for Military History, all rights reserved. Reproduced here with permission of the Editor of JMH.
Reviewer: William S. Dudley
[Bold-faced emphasis by hb]
This is a fascinating, original biography of a World War II artillery officer in the Pacific War and his family’s lives on the home front. Hale Bradt tells a complex tale of the son of a midwestern farming family caught up in the early twentieth century’s upheavals of World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. This lengthy account is contained in three volumes, totaling about 1,000 pages of text. It’s a time-consuming but rewarding read for its tolerance and understanding of the family members who at the time were under considerable stress.
The biographer is the son of Wilber Bradt, a graduate of Indiana University who became a college chemistry professor and later a much decorated artillery officer. He survived all the risks of war only to confront apparently insurmountable family problems coupled with postwar readjustment on his homecoming. The narratives of soldiers of World War II who came home to disrupted homes are not uncommon, but the detail and depth with which these issues are treated, through hundreds of family letters and oral history anecdotes, make this story unique. In fact, the final act of this drama is nothing less than a tragedy that plays out in the heady days of postwar America.
Rarely do we meet such sexual frankness and emotional pathos as are presented in these family letters from Wilbur Bradt to his wife Norma during his three years absence in the Pacific. Likewise, he diligently wrote to his father Hale Bradt, a retired high school teacher. There is a tortured correspondence between Wilber and his mother Elizabeth who felt he should have paid back the money they had loaned him for college before he entered the service, and who had disapproved of the way he and Norma had married hastily without introducing her to the family. Letters between Wilber and his children Hale, Jr., and Valerie show how the absent father tried to counsel and entertain them to make up for his absence half a world away. Interesting, too, are the letters he exchanged with his brother, as well as colleagues and superiors at the University of Maine, trying to ensure he would have a job there after the war. The author reproduces portions of many letters as illustrations and others are transcribed when they are germane to the story.
In the research and writing of this account, the author followed his father’s footsteps based on his extensive family correspondence, and the record of his service in prewar National Guard artillery and infantry regiments while he taught at Indiana University, the University of Cincinnati, Washington State University at Pullman, and the University of Maine at Orono. Wilber Bradt was a solid, hardworking working chemistry professor who could have remained in civilian life to pursue a successful academic career, but he chose to follow the path for which he had prepared through years of National Guard service. As his son wrote, Wilber felt this was to be “an adventure in historic times that he was not about to miss.”
Wilber Bradt’s remarkably detailed letters give voice to his career as an officer in the U.S. Army’s 43rd Division, Field Artillery, under the immediate command of Brigadier General Harold R. Barker. These men first served under Vice Admiral William Halsey’s South Pacific Area Command and later under General Douglas MacArthur and General Walter Krueger in the Southwest Pacific Area. Bradt rose in the ranks from captain to lieutenant colonel through grueling jungle warfare as he and his men confronted the Japanese Imperial Army in the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, and the Philippines. Until the publication of this biography, Bradt was virtually unknown among the thousands who served in the Pacific War, but his letters demonstrate the essential role played by this brave, intelligent middleranked army officer and many others like him.
The author provides readers not familiar with the role of artillery in World War II with enough information to understand what Wilber Bradt experienced, what his duties were, and how he led his men. He started out as a second lieutenant in the 161st Infantry Regiment in the Washington State National Guard, and was promoted to first lieutenant in 1933. The governor activated the National Guard to quell the timber workers’ strike of June and July 1935. In a long letter to his father and mother, Wilber recounted his handling of the unit during the rough and tumble mill worker’ strike in Tacoma, where he ended up in charge of the military police. Though this military activity was used to counter the violent activity of unarmed civilians, it was Bradt’s first opportunity to lead troops and added to his self confidence in commanding his men. Shortly afterward, Bradt was invited to Orono to assume his next teaching job as full professor and head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Maine. He continued his National Guard activities in the 152nd Artillery Regiment. By the summer of 1940, Wilber believed his unit would be activated, so he drew up instructions for his wife on handling all sorts of emergencies that might develop in his absence.
The 43rd Division’s activation for national service became effective on February 24, 1941. By this time Bradt was a captain in the 152nd Field Artillery Regiment. His unit departed for initial training at Camp Blanding, Florida, in March 1941. The next step in training was Camp Shelby in Mississippi in February 1942, a site for battalion level maneuver training. Soon after this move, the Army announced a reorganization of the 43rd Division from “square to triangular”; in other words, they converted from four infantry regiments and three artillery regiments to three infantry regiments and four artillery battalions. Three of the artillery battalions would be attached to a particular infantry regiment and the fourth would be held in reserve for use where needed.
The goal was greater mobility of artillery for the regimental combat teams. The three light battalions were equipped with 12 – 105mm (4 inch) howitzers; the medium battalion was equipped with 4 – 155 mm (6 inch) howitzers. Each battalion travelled with its own equipment, e.g. 75 trucks, 12 towed howitzers, ammunition carriers, jeeps, maintenance vehicles, and approximately 500 enlisted men and officers. The four field artillery battalions of the 43rd Division were under the command of Brigadier General Harold R. Barker. By the time Bradt and his unit had completed training at Camp Blanding, Camp Shelby, and the eight-week field officers’ course at Fort Sill, he had been through the Louisiana and South Carolina maneuvers, and had been promoted major and acting executive officer for the 169th Field Artillery Battalion. By May 1942, Wilber was back at Fort Shelby working as Plans and Training Officer for the 43rd Artillery Division.
In September the orders came through for the division to ship out to join the fighting in the South Pacific with a first stop as Fort Ord, California, and then on to board the Army Transport Maui at San Francisco. The voyage to Auckland, New Zealand, took three weeks during which Bradt had the unaccustomed leisure to write seventeen letters, mostly to his wife and children, reflecting on the past, describing the ship, and trying to keep up morale on the home front. The transport arrived in late October, yet the troops were scheduled for an additional six months of training in New Caledonia before reaching the Solomon Islands.
The author follows Major Bradt’s increasingly active combat role as an artillery commander in the 169th Field Artillery Battalion from its quiet landing in the Russell Islands in June 1943, to its baptism of fire on New Georgia as the 43rd Division assaulted the Japanese airfield on Munda Point. Bradt was among those wounded in an enemy bombing attack on Pavuvu before he embarked for Rendova. From there, Bradt’s field artillery deployed to soften up the Japanese defenses around the airfield. This was no easy task as the batteries had to be placed on islands surrounding Munda Point to gain a clear field of fire. Bradt’s artillery observers had to find forward positions from which they could observe fall of shot and communicate by radio to order adjustments in range and bearing. As this evolved, the 169th Infantry Regiment moved slowly and painfully through the jungle, probing the Japanese positions, calling for artillery support, and taking them by attrition. This operation took a solid month of trial and error as the troops gained experience and confidence.
Later operations followed, on Sasavele Island and Baanga Island, near Munda Point, and then on to Arundel Island, as the U.S. forces approached Kolombangara, a major Japanese stronghold. The Japanese infantry fought savagely to hold ground and at each encounter they would either be reinforced or retreat, if they could be evacuated, to the next most defendable island. For the artillerymen, it was heavy labor under dangerous conditions, moving guns, transporting artillery shells to new gun positions, and stringing wire on steep hillsides, through swamps, and enemy-infested jungles, not knowing where the next sniper or machine gun would be hidden. It was Wilber’s job to keep the men on the move, anticipate the enemy’s artillery tactics, and plan where to place his own batteries for the next infantry push. His efforts earned a promotion to lieutenant colonel and a Legion of Merit award, usually reserved for senior officers.
Meanwhile, all was not going well on the home front for the Bradt family. Wife Norma had fallen in love with an older divorced man, a family friend known to Wilber. Apparently, normal restraints no longer mattered, for she became pregnant and decided to keep the baby when it was born in October 1943. This led Norma to spin an elaborate web of lies in order to keep the child’s birth a secret from friends and family, especially Wilber. This becomes evident as the letters she wrote him, formerly open and loving, became restrained and lacking in the kind of detail Wilber enjoyed and expected. His responses soon showed his increasing concern that he might have a competitor for her affections, and he tried all the harder to elicit the kind of responses he wanted. Author-son Hale Bradt alternates Wilber’s letters with his own comments on developments within the family, although as a teenager at the time he did not understand all that was taking place.
After their work in the Solomons Campaign, the 43rd Division enjoyed a nine-months break for rest, recuperation, and refresher training in New Zealand from fall 1943 to summer 1944, but then it was back to the jungle to take part in the New Guinea campaign, in battles on the north coast around Aitape to seize airfields that would cover allied forces in the Hollandia area and to block the Japanese forces from moving westward. In December 1944, the Australian 6th Division relieved the U.S. 43rd Division at Aitape, freeing Bradt and his men for the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines. There he took part in the attack into the Central Plains, the fight along the Shimbu Line, and the taking of the Ipo Dam as artillery commander of the 152nd Field Artillery Battalion.
In mid-May 1945, Maj. Gen. Leonard F. Wing, having noticed Bradt’s performance in the field, awarded him a Bronze Star medal, and appointed him the executive officer of the 172nd Infantry Regiment, an unusual step for an artillery officer. This put him in line for command of the regiment, which he evidently did not relish, but it soon fell to him, anyway. In this capacity, he would have the job of preparing the regiment for final mopping up, rehabilitation, and training for the anticipated invasion of Japan.
With the surrender of Japan, on September 2, 1945, there was great relief among the troops of the 43rd Division as they would have taken part in the invasion of Kyushu in the home islands. Those not selected for duty as occupation troops were soon on their way home. Wilber’s departure took place in late September, but his homecoming was not the one he expected. His children were overjoyed to see him, but his wife was reserved, lacking the warmth he so anticipated. The commander at Fort Meade ordered him to Walter Reed Army Hospital where he underwent treatment for malaria, his shrapnel wound, and depression. He was uncertain about his future, had doubts about wanting to return to the University of Maine, was confused about his wife’s attitude (withholding intimacy), and suspected her estrangement. The culmination of this family drama occurred on December 1, 1945. Lt. Col. Bradt was at home, sorting through war souvenirs as presents for his family, when he took out a Colt .45 handgun and ended his own life. These unfortunate events reflect the physical and psycho-social effects of war on those who wage it and the spouses they leave behind.
The author’s research, including travel (during the 1980s) to the sites of battles and the rest & recreation areas visited by his father was exhaustive. Included as principal primary sources are official journals, histories, and operational documents such as the 43rd Division historical report for the Luzon campaign, and those of its individual units, as follows, the 172nd, 103rd, and 169th infantry regiments; the 152nd, 169th, 103rd, and 192nd field artillery battalions; and the History of the 103rd Infantry Regiment, 43rd Division for January 1-May 31, 1945. The bibliography includes the Pacific War volumes of the “Green Books” histories of the U.S. Army Center of Military History and pertinent volumes of Samuel Eliot Morison’s History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II, as well as memoirs by veterans of the Pacific campaign and relevant secondary, self-published, and unpublished works. The author also consulted pertinent newspapers such the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Star, the Wellington, N.Z., Evening Post and the Bangor, Maine Daily News. Other valuable sources were oral histories gathered from 1981 to 2012, notably that of Col. Seishu Kinoshita who commanded the Japanese 13th Regiment opposing Bradt’s unit in the Battle for Munda Point, New Georgia.
Hale V. Bradt has done a superb job of disentangling the confusing threads of this story which is as much about himself as other family members. He is an 85-year-old Professor of Physics, Emeritus, an M.I.T. physicist who specialized in x-ray astronomy. In the 1980s, having lived long enough with the tragic demise of his father and the divisions within his family, he decided to confront the past by writing this biography. The author has done an excellent job of providing the historical context of the events of Wilber’s War. Having read the letters, the reader becomes involved in the lives of the personalities even while trying to remain aloof. If there is a flaw in this trilogy, it is in its great length and the large number of letters reproduced and used as part of the text. But, the reward for military historians and students is found in learning more about the demands that World War II made on soldiers and their families, with its extended absences and the ever-present anxieties this produced.
– – – –
William S. Dudley served as the Director of the Naval Historical Center (now the Naval History and Heritage Command) from 1995 to 2004. He was the original and series editor of The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, 3 vols. (1985–2002). Since retirement in 2004, he has written “United States Navy, 1775 to Present” in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History (2007) and co-authored, with Scott Harmon, The Naval War of 1812: America’s Second War of Independence (2013).
November 17, 2015
Gina’s Library of Reviews
Author: Hale Bradt
Reviewer: Brittany Pisola
[Bold-faced emphasis by hb]
In the three-book set, Wilber’s War, An American Family’s Journey through World War II, Bradt reproduces much of his father’s intimate narrative from the Pacific front and recounts his painful return home after a three-year deployment. The accounts reveal not only on-the-ground details of Pacific combat, but the tangled web of a mother’s heartbreaking sacrifice, a tragic suicide, and a family that was reshaped forever.
The wartime letters also offer a picture of Norma, Wilber’s wife, as a complex, if not uncontroversial, heroine. A military spouse plagued by her husband’s lengthy deployment, she faced immense personal struggles on the home front while attending to the needs of her family. How she chose to handle these challenges becomes a distinctive and irrevocable element in the Bradt family saga.
Wilber’s War: An American Family’s Journey through World War II was a long, but enjoyable read. Being a former history teacher, I enjoy history books. I love learning about the past and Wilber’s War definitely satisfied that passion. I learned a lot about World War II that I did not know. Most information that is taught about WWII focuses on the war in Europe. We learn little about the war in the Pacific and about the life of citizen’s back home. Wilber’s War gives insight into WWII in the Pacific and into the lives of the American family.
Wilber’s War is a trilogy. In the trilogy, we followed Wilber Bradt, his wife Norma, and his children Hale and Valerie through the events before, after, and during WWII. The first book is called Citizen Soldier. In this book we learn about the Wilber’s family history. We meet his parents and brothers and sisters. We also learn about how he and his wife met and follow his family as it grows. We also learn about Wilber’s sense of duty and citizenship to serve. We follow him on his journey into the service and being sent overseas to fight in the Pacific
Book two is called Combat and New life. In this book we learn more about the war in the Pacific. We get to see how the war was fought and how the military worked during WWII, through Wilber’s eyes. We also get to see more about what life was like in America during the war. Letters from Norma, Hale, and Valerie give insight into the personal aspects and hardships of having a man fighting during WWII.
Book three is called Victory & Homecoming. Wilber and the fighting moves from the south Pacific to the Philippines and eventually Japan. After the end of the war we watch as Wilber comes home to his family. We learn about how he tries to return to a normal life. This book is wrapped up with his death and the aftermath of it.
There were several things that I enjoyed about Wilber’s War. Even though this is a history book, it is not dry like most. The story is mainly told through letters written by Wilber and his family, with narration by Wilber’s son Hale. I like that we are given background information about the family before we jump into the story of the war. The author also did a very good job at getting the reader hooked. He started his book with the death of Wilber. He gave just enough information and left out just the right amount to make the reader want to keep reading to find out what happened and why. Then he goes back and tells the story from the beginning. I enjoyed the fact that he provided information about life on the war front, as well as at home in the States. Very few history books include what life was like on the home front.
I also like the fact that the author gives the facts about Wilber’s and Norma’s choices and then lets the reader decide how to judge them. The author was proud of both of his parents and does not speak about them negatively. Both Wilber and Norma had to make difficult choices and they may not have been the best, but they tried their best to do what they thought was right. I enjoyed learning more about WWII in the Pacific and the life on the home front. I was engaged in the story and wrapped up in the lives of the Bradt’s.
August 27, 2015
Foreword Reviews, Fall 2015
Reviewed by Tom Bevier
[Bold-faced emphasis by hb]
Three years in the Pacific Theater during WWIl leads to 700 intimate letters, but this story is less about a war hero than it is about a loving family man.
In his weighty trilogy (nine pounds on the bathroom scale) in honor of the father World War II deprived him of ever fully knowing, Hale Bradt relates a story that could resonate with the multitude of families who also sacrificed a father, a husband, or a son. It might also serve as a reminder to those who celebrate war, and to those who would wage it, of the often joyless consequences.
Bradt, a retired MIT physics professor who is now in his eighties, began this project in 1980 as he perused the 700 or so letters his father, Wilber Bradt, wrote to his family and others while serving as a US Army officer in the Pacific Theater from 1942 to 1945. The result is a story less about a war hero—although Wilber, whose awards included three Silver Star medals and a Purple Heart, surely was one—than it is about a man bereft of family and maybe a little bit afraid.
Shortly before the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines in January 1945, he wrote his wife, Norma, “Don’t forget that if I don’t come thru, some minutes are worth more than years of living and such minutes are coming to us. … I love you and nothing can take me away from you.”
Wilber also wrote very personal letters to his son and daughter. Hale Bradt admits to resisting tears as he reads a letter telling him not to be afraid and to wait for “the good days we will have together some day.” It was not to be. Hale was 14 the last time he saw his father, who was home after a three-year absence but hospitalized periodically for treatment of malaria and the aftereffects of wounds. Poignantly, their second-to-last father-son outing was to a Fritz Kreisler violin recital. Both loved classical music.
On December 1, 1945, Lt. Col. Wilber E. Bradt, 45, committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest with a .45-caliber pistol. In the parlance of those times, he was probably a victim of “shell-shock,” a term largely replaced in this more euphemistic era with “post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author provided free copies of his/her book to have his/her book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love and make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
August 21, 2015
Biz India Online News
Author: Hale Bradt
Publisher: Van Dorn Books – 1,112 pages
Book Review by: Paiso Jamakar
[Bold-faced emphasis by hb]
This three-part saga of a family that went through a harrowing World War II experience – as the patriarch fought the dreaded Japanese soldiers in the islands of the Pacific – is not only a moving and heart-rending one, but demonstrates their great courage and sacrifice.
It is the heroic story of Wilber Bradt and his courageous wife Norma as told by their son Hale. The work consists of three volumes. Book 1 is Citizen Solder, Book 2 is Combat & New Life, and Book 3 is Victory & Homecoming.
The narratives were woven together from about 700 letters containing great detail, sent by Wilber from U.S. Army war scenes in New Guinea, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands to his family back home. The three books of this trilogy not only contain copies of letters and envelopes, and telegrams from Wilber, but also charts and maps of the areas where the battles were fought, newspaper headlines, and numerous photos at various stages of the family’s life.
All together these materials enable the reader to live through this tragic war, feel the sorrows and triumphs of this family, and conclude that never again should the world experience a human tragedy of such massive proportions.
No review can ever convey to you, or evoke in you, the emotions that arise within you when you are reading the various episodes of the family’s experiences, even as they have been written on a deeply personal level by a member of that family. But we here below give you a sort of scope of the various parts of this story by listing the Parts of each of the three books in this trilogy:
- Book 1 – Citizen Soldier
- Part I. Farm to academia
- Part II. Army camps
- Part III. Voyages to war
- Holding the front
- Book 2 – Combat & New Life
- Part I. Jungle combat
- Part II. Interlude 1983, Japan and Solomon Islands
- Part III. Ondonga palm grove
- Part IV. Western civilization at last
- Part V. Interlude 1984, New Zealand
- Book 3 – Victory & Homecoming
- Part I. Combat, New Guinea
- Part II. Final battles, Luzon
- Part III. Interlude 1983, Luzon
- Part IV. Japan and Home
- Part V. Epilogue
This is a unique epic of monumental scale about an American soldier’s fight in battles in various parts of Oceania during the Second World War, and intricately pieced together by his son. I highly recommend that readers get a copy, not just to know a single family’s story, but to know on a broader scale, how American soldiers go and fight on foreign shores, and sometimes die in the struggle against aggression, occupation, subjugation, and suppression of freedom.
Hale Bradt, PhD is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a faculty member of its Department of Physics from 1961 to 2001. After getting an AB degree with a major in music from Princeton University in 1952, he went to study physics. After getting his physics degree from MIT, he became an instructor there in 1961, an assistant professor in 1963, associate professor in 1968, and full professor in 1972.
Bradt founded MIT’s sounding rocket program in x-ray astronomy in 1967, was a co-investigator on the MIT SAS-3 mission that launched in 1975, was a co-principal investigator on the Heat Energy Astronomy Observatory, or HEAO in 1977. He was principal investigator of the All-Sky Monitor (ASM) instrument on the Rossi X-Ray Timing Explore (RXTE) which began in 1995 and was operating until 2010.
Bradt’s work has long been directed towards the determination of X-ray source positions and the follow-up studies of the objects identified. With students and associates, he has carried out studies with RXTE of the unusual neutron-star binary Cir X-1, of gamma ray bursts, and of the behavior of transient X-ray sources.
He is the author of two books: Astronomy Methods (2004) and Astrophysics Processes (2008), both by Cambridge University Press, and numerous articles for conferences and journals. He and his wife Dorothy have two grown daughters and live in Salem, Massachusetts.
Midwest Book Review
Jack Mason, Reviewer
Reviewer’s Bookwatch, June 2015, Mason’s Bookshelf
[Bold-faced emphasis by hb]
Synopsis: A father’s odyssey. A mother’s strength. A son’s story. “Wilber’s War” by Hale Bradt is a three volume chronicle showcasing the story of two ordinary Americans, Wilber and Norma Bradt during the extraordinary time and years that comprised World War II. “Wilber’s War” offers fresh insight-on a deeply personal level-into the historic conflict as it was fought by the U.S. Army in the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, and The Philippines and by a family on the home front. It is an epic tale of duty, heroism, love, and human frailty. The story is told in large part in Wilber’s own words in a sensitive editing of his some 700 richly detailed wartime letters. “Wilber’s War” spotlights the ways in which individuals shaped, and were shaped by, World War II. It offers a nuanced view into the complexities faced by one family and by U.S. society as a whole when it ships soldiers off to war and asks loved ones to forge new lives on the home front. Author Hale Bradt is Wilber and Norma’s son, and shares his parents’ stories with insight, compassion, and a wealth of carefully selected images that bring their experiences to life. Visiting in the 1980s the battlefields where his father fought, he adds another uniquely American voice to this rich story: that of a son seeking to unravel the tangled threads of his family’s legacy.
Critique: An impressive and monumental family biography, “Wilber’s War” is an unprecedented and welcome contribution to the growing body of World War II literature. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, “Wilber’s War” would well serve as a template for others to emulate in telling the story of their own families through turbulent times. An inherently fascinating read, this deftly crafted trilogy is very highly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century American History reference collections in general, and World War II supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted that “Wilber’s War” is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.00 per volume or $25.00 for all three).