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The Korean War Hardcover – July 3, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

Any serious student of the Korean War will want to read this book for its measured perspectives and concern to contextualize its subject. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From The New Yorker

Stueck has written an impressive, largescale synthesis of the entire conflict.... [He] excels at describing the intricate diplomatic maneuverings that took place throughout the war, and that were aimed at avoiding a major clash between the great powers. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in International History and Politics
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First edition (July 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691037671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691037677
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,093,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gary J. Jakacky on November 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Good book! The introduction sets the tone and the theme for the book: thus, it hangs together despite being one of those books which covers the battles of the war in numbing detail. His theses are several:
(1)The Korean War substituted for WW III between the two superpowers.
(2)The U.N. was not exclusively a U.S. tool.
(3)Stalin's motive was to hurt US/China relations, the US, to stop communism; neither cared about Korea.
(4)The war had a global impact on defense expenditures, treaties and economic alliances between the various blocs.
There is much speculation about times when the war could have come ended sooner. What would the political impact have been? Stueck suggests that great men--Stalin, Mao, Truman/Acheson--not just great ideology, played a role in this critical history.
Occupation of Korea by Russian and US forces at the end of WWII was without any specifics..that hurt as relations between the two nations hardened. Both occupying forces were heavyhanded. Russians used reform to calm things down, but the south was in chaos among its political factions. The US, wishing to wash its hands of Korea, turned to the UN as a way to have peninsular elections; the north refused to take part. Some improvement took place in the south in 1950, helped by ruthless suppression of insurrections by Syghman Rhee in the central mountains of Korea.

To Stalin, an asian war would detract from the European theatre, and hurt China. Still the USA, China and Russia had profound reasons NOT to clash head on those summer days of 1950. Early diplomatic moves made it clear that the 3 superpowers would confine the battlefield to Korea.
Discussion about Allied forces going over the 38th parallel were underway in the US as early as the 10th of August.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ferro on March 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
An excellent reference work for scholars of East Asian history. This book documents the behind-the-scenes twists and turns of the war, its prelude, and influence upon the politics of the world powers. It utilizes new sources and argues that Korea functioned as a proxy cold-war alternative to WWIII.
The only noticeable flaw is that you never really know what year you are in (or it takes a lot of backpedalling or cross-referencing to find out). The author mentions days and months frequently but almost never the year. Ultimately however, its thoroughness and objectivity left a lasting impression.
It is basically a textbook, and a weighty volume at that. Reading it for pleasure rather than study, I was hoping it would draw in more diverse cultural insights, anecdotes or elements of human interest, but it remained rather bland from that standpoint.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author has a difficult time keeping focused on the war and lectures throughout of US faults. The Korean War was planned, executed and sustained by the communist for their own domination of all of Korea. The greatest take away is the failure of the UN and the fallacy of believing it could be successful. Further, the book clearly paints our European allies as more concerned about their future political positions with the PRC than supporting the US cause in Korea. Unfortunately the U.S. "Europe First" strategy hindered thinking and decisions by the military and civilian politicians supporting the War resulting in acceptance of less than a win. That mind set continues today.
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