Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Korean War (Pan Grand Strategy Series) Paperback – January 7, 2000
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Library Journal
The Korean War has been misunderstood and neglected. Hastings had the unique opportunity of interviewing Chinese and North Korean veterans, a source denied to most Western historians. He shows how Korea served as a prelude to Vietnam and why Americans were making the same mistakes 15 years later. One minor criticism: Hastings devotes much space to the operations of the British Commonwealth Division. The Commonwealth never had more than 20,000 men in Korea; the United States had well over 500,000. Recommended for most academic and public libraries; for a more extensive history buy Edwin P. Hoyt's trilogy, Pusan Perimeter, On to the Yalu, and Bloody Road to Panmunjon . BOMC and History Book Club alternates.Stanley Itkin, Hillside P.L., New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Stephen E. Ambroseauthor of "Eisenhower: The President" and "Nixon: The Education of a Politician"Rings true and will surely stand the test of time....Max Hastings has no peer as a writer of battlefield history.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
One comment: The cover. It is classic photograph of war. Sometimes the media shows heroic action which some dismiss as propaganda while other media show mundane shots which other dismiss as not showing the real war. Some show this type of shot. In all wars, some Soldiers ... either to inexperience, heavy battle, or lack of confidence (leadership). This shot too is not the real war. Many Soldiers, combat Soldiers, do and will break. But, most come and fight and leave ... changed but not destroyed ... it is a matter of attitude. Mr. Hastings' book Nemesis highlights one English Soldier who fought in North Africa and then went to fight the South Pacific. His biggest complaint was the rain, not the war. He was confident and resilient and he came home relatively fine. The ones that have friends do well in war. An equally famous shot, that could have been used was one where one Soldier comforted his buddy. It is a western opinion that wars can not be won and end like this picture; the rest of the world does not have this opinion.
The chapter on Douglas MacArthur and his dismissal is important, due to the miscalculations and folly of MacArthur's vision of the war. Truman, as Commander in Chief had to fire MacArthur despite the General's popularity at home. His replacement, Maxwell Taylor gets a justifiably laudable treatment.
The epic, tragic tale of the men at Chosin help us understand the privations and valor. The Chinese winter assault is given in the proper manner. The lack of any diplomatic relations between the US and China were key in that misstep, so too was MacArthur for not staying where he was ordered.
The resolution of the Hot part of the conflict is shown in its detail and complexity. The establishment of the DMZ is handled well.
I highly recommend this book. Hastings, in all his books, seems to offer the right mix of anecdote and analysis to make the story interesting, but also keeping the reader focused on the big picture as well. I think if you want to learn about the Korean War, this is the one book to get.
As I was among those inexcusably ignorant about the Korean War, I decided to embark on a modest self-education program, beginning with THE KOREAN WAR by Max Hastings. I am pleased to report that the book, even after twenty-five years, is an excellent general introduction to the War.
Hastings is British, and his book certainly highlights British participation more than an American writer's probably would. But Hastings recognizes, and his book reflects, the vastly greater role of the United States in the prosecution of the War. (In contrast, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries lost 1,263 killed. Of course, it also should be mentioned that the South Korean Army lost 415,000 killed and around two million non-combatant Koreans lost their lives.) The book covers well both the political and the military aspects of the war, although if a reader wants to focus on only one of those aspects, Hastings's book is not the one to get. In addition, Hastings's THE KOREAN WAR, interwoven as it is with many eyewitness accounts, is written in an easily readable almost journalistic fashion. Even so, it strikes me as responsible, balanced history.
Here are some of the matters covered in Hastings's book:
* North Korea, under its tyrannical strongman Kim Il Sun, was the aggressor. Neither the Soviet Union nor China was "behind" North Korea's invasion of the South, which ignited the War on June 25, 1950.
* While the amphibious landing at Inchon was General MacArthur's masterstroke, one that may well have saved South Korea from Communist domination, overall MacArthur's performance in Korea was a sad and sorry final chapter of his public life. In his dealings with Truman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff he was guilty of gross insubordination. Among his irresponsible proposals was "to create an impassable boundary between the forces of communism and those of freedom by sowing a no-man's-land with radioactive waste."
* But it was not just MacArthur who considered waging nuclear war. There are many indications that the Administration and/or the Joint Chiefs of Staff seriously (or more seriously than we now would like to think) entertained the notion of employing nuclear weapons both against North Korea and against China.
* In matters of diplomacy, intelligence, and military tactics and courage, the performance of the U.S. in Korea left much to be desired and might even be characterized as embarrassing. Individual instances are far too numerous to recite here, so I will limit myself to one. The failure of the U.S. to realize that the Chinese were prepared to respond in massive force to the drive to the Yalu River and North Korea's border with China in the fall of 1950 "reflected a contempt for intelligence [and] for the cardinal principles of military prudence seldom matched in twentieth-century warfare." Indeed, it probably ranks close in arrant foolhardiness to Stalin's blinding himself to the imminence of Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.
* Syngman Rhee, our man in Seoul, was responsible for vast corruption and brutal atrocities. With the shameful backing of the U.S., he rendered the process of law virtually non-existent in Seoul. The only thing that can be said in his favor was that he was less ruthless than Kim Il Sung, his counterpart in Pyongyang. [Addendum (1 Nov. 2012): I have now read "The Korean War: A History" by Bruce Cumings, and among the points on which he differs from Max Hastings is this one in particular. With the benefit of information made public in the twenty-five years since Hastings wrote his book, including information released in South Korea after true democracy was introduced there in the 1990s, it seems clear that between 1945 and 1955 the South had even less regard for human life, including the lives of women and children, than did the North.]
* The American sponsorship of an anti-democratic strongman is just one of many similarities that might be drawn between Korea and Vietnam. Again, I don't have room to list them. Suffice it to say that the experience in Korea should have provided many lessons applicable to Vietnam that, unfortunately, the U.S. either did not recognize or did not heed.
* There were countless atrocities perpetrated by the armies on both sides during the Korean War. No doubt those committed by the Communists (and the South Koreans) were worse and more numerous than those committed by the U.S. Still, Americans tended to treat Koreans and Chinese as if they were near-animals. For example, "the evidence is overwhelming that conditions among the [POW camps run by Americans] would have been considered barbaric by, say, the inmates of a POW camp in Germany in 1943."
In this review, I have listed more negative aspects of the Korean War (from the Western/American perspective) than positive ones. One should not conclude from that, however, that Max Hastings, overall, has a condemnatory attitude towards the war. Indeed, he ends the book with this sentence: "If the Korean War was a frustrating, profoundly unsatisfactory experience, more than thirty-five years later it still seems a struggle that the West was utterly right to fight."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I also enjoyed the parallels between Korea and Vietnam a decade later.