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Hope in Hungnam: A Novel of the Korean War Paperback – May 6, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hope in Hungnam is an outstanding epic of individual heroism and triumph of survival... a gripping historical account of hope and enduring faith." - Rear Admiral J. Robert Lunney, NYNM (Ret.) - Staff Officer, SS Meredith Victory

"I escaped North Korea with my father in 1950 onboard the Meredith Victory. David Watts has written an intricate account... Hope in Hungnam deals with love, hate, forgiveness, tolerance and sacrifice. The author writes as if he were actually there." - Dong Hyuck Won, Refugee on the SS Meredith Victory, December 1950

"Hope in Hungnam captures the heroism of our troops at Chosin Reservoir and their final dramatic escape from Hungnam..." - Merl Smith, Licensed Junior Engineer, SS Meredith Victory

"A touching debut novel... Both a novel of a cold, relentless place and an unlikely love story, it honors the dead and celebrates the lucky living. Earnest in its telling, this story of the Hungnam evacuation asks readers to measure both the terror and humanity of America's forgotten war." - Kirkus Reviews

"I was especially intrigued by Hope in Hungnam's beautifully crafted portraits of the stunning rescue of 14,000 refugees aboard the cargo ship Meredith Victory... an excellent work of historical fiction...  very much worth your time to read this compelling story of the Korean War." - Choe Chong-dae, Opinion Article, Korean Times
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1434829669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434829665
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,935,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Watts Jr. lives in east Texas with his wife, children and multiple dogs and cats. His work as a technology project manager has taken him on many journeys across the country and around the world. His professional specialty is SAP HCM project management.

David holds a B.S. degree in Political Science from the University of Louisville. He is an avid student of history and especially the history of the Korean War - rightly called America's Forgotten War. He has previously published a Kindle collection of short stories titled, The Chase and Other Short Stories.

David is also an accomplished commercial photographer and holds a FAA multi-engine commercial pilot's license

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
WOW. I am not a history buff, nor am I an avid reader. My siblings read books. I read articles. That being said, I didn't want to stop reading Hope in Hungnam. The author had me hooked from the first chapter. This novel leads you down both familiar and unfamiliar paths in multiple hemispheres. It is a thrilling tale of love and loss, joy and pain. From the heart-wrenching events of the parent/child relation to the heart-pounding accounts of enemies on the battlefield, David Watts Jr. delivers an emotional narrative on this near forgotten war and the people involved.
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Format: Paperback
Hope in Hungnam is a novel about the Korean War that incorporates the historical and record-breaking rescue of North Korean refugees by USS Meredith Victory, a US Merchant Marine cargo ship on Christmas Eve 1950. The story centers on a US Marine private named Jack Stiles, who searches for meaning in not only his assignment, but also in United States involvement in what he considers to be a civil war of animals. Stiles fights alongside his childhood friend in the doomed Chosin Reservoir battle against North Korean and Chinese forces. The US forces are ordered to retreat to Hungnam for evacuation, inspiring a flood of North Korean refugees to flee as well. In the course of the private's horrific experiences of the war, Stiles meets a North Korean woman who saves him and puts a compassionate face to the people that he had despised.

Watts creates compelling characters in his debut novel, drawing readers in and engaging them in the characters' welfare and the outcome of their choices. Fictional character Jack Stiles is portrayed with depth and sincerity in his principles, whether right or wrong. US Merchant Mariner Captain Leonard P. LaRue, the real-life hero and captain of the USS Meredith Victory, provides the backbone of faith to this story. References to his Christian faith are not overbearing but are shown with true and unwavering conviction. Jang Tae-bok, Stiles's fictional counterpart, is a young North Korean mother to two young boys and sole caregiver to her elderly father. Jang is portrayed respectfully and convincingly and, along with her father, represents the "Korean side" in this story, showing compassion, humility, honor, and determination to do what is right, not easy.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In his book, Hope in Hungnam, David Watts, Jr. writes about events that most Americans never heard about during the days of the Korean War, and developed it into a well written book that shows bravery, heroism and love of country both in the American soldier and the Korean people. Little has been written about the battle at Chosin Reservoir or the evacuation of thousands of refugees at Hungnam, but David describes them in a way that you would think he had been an eyewitness. The sights, sounds and smells written about evoked many emotions in this reader.
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Format: Paperback
Hope in Hungnam (David Watts Jr., 2012) brings readers back to the Korean War, a forgotten war in the history of the United States and global theater, through a forceful and beautifully written historical fiction. Watts masterfully connects readers to the people and events of this forgotten war through a mission that defies all odds and through the delicate makings of a love story.

Most of the energy of the book is focused on the development of main character Jack: his wants, dreams, and ideals, as explored through war and interactions with the people he meets. along the way. Jack presents at first as very singular in both thought and action, but develops more thh as he observes and experiences the hardships of war. Really, Jack's character could be explored further, particularly as he encounters various challenges along his path. However, readers can easily see growth in Jack's character as he encounters the North Korean family who at first threatens, but then rescues him.

The descriptions of the mission and the philosophical and human costs of war are attended to with care. Readers can easily develop an affinity for the Captain of the SS Meredith Victory, who is truly a hero with a focus on serving his country and those he is protecting in an ethical manner.
The interactions between captain and crew shed light on the very real and difficult decisions that must be made in wartime, and the resulting costs in human life and soul. Indeed, knowing that Hope in Hungnam highlights true events makes reading that much more meaningful.

Overall, I do reccomend the book. The flow of the narrative is probably the greatest strength of the book, allowing readers to be carried along and to care about the story being told.
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Format: Paperback
Instead of a dry recitation of a historical event, Mr. Watts chose to make this story personal by bringing the reader into the lives of some of the individuals who were impacted by the war. It's one thing to hear about statistics, how many Americans died and how many Koreans were displaced because of the communist take over. It's quite another thing to vicariously experience an American soldier's fears and hatred towards an enemy he's supposed to kill until that enemy has a face and becomes a fellow human. To experience the desperation of a young Korean mother trying to save herself and her children. A family that loses the home and land that had been in their family for generations. Suddenly people aren't statistics anymore. They're human beings whose pain and suffering you cry over.

It is inspiring to read about the selflessness of American soldiers who chose to risk their own lives to save the lives of a group of people from a place and culture remote from their own.

It is also one of the most heroic and amazing rescue operations in history. The tragedy is that it is so little known. I think that everyone should read this enjoyable, well-written account of a significant event that unfortunately got sandwiched in between WWII and the Vietnam war and has not received the recognition it deserves.
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