- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Potomac Books; 1 edition (August 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1574883437
- ISBN-13: 978-1574883435
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,566,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Odd Man Out: Truman, Stalin, Mao, and the Origins of the Korean War 1st Edition
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Praise for Richard C. Thornton's The Nixon-Kissinger Years: Reshaping America's Foreign Policy
"Like a Tom Clancy thriller or an Anthony Price mystery, intricate events unfold across great distances whether of geography or of the mind....The Nixon-Kissinger Years is a devastating commentary on the conduct of American foreign relations by Kissinger."
"Highly provocative, well-researched, and vigorously written."
About the Author
Richard C. Thornton is a professor of history and international affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.
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This book focuses on a tight but critical time span 1948-50, the sequence of events within which are now hard to reconstruct. And they were poorly reported in that time of limited communications (esp. by the NY Times!). Truman was above all a budgetary conservative, the U.S. had experienced its first large budget deficits in WWII, and he saw it as his mission to rein in spending. The military, then as now, was the big ticket item. We were the only nation with the Magic Weapon and were exultant in our new world leader status. Military planners saw little need for future amphibious capabilities - given our nuclear monopoly who was going to mess with us? Truman sought to rationalize the military for a new nuclear age.
Three events in close succession changed the picture completely in the period herein covered. The Soviets, our war allies and until then non-hostile, suddenly shut off Berlin. Then our monitoring plane over Alaska registered a sudden spike in radiation coming from Asia - the Soviets (unannounced) had acquired The Bomb! Then, unanticipated even by Stalin, Chinese Communists swept the former KMT armies off the map in 3 quick campaigns that eliminated a half million KMT soldiers in each swipe. KMT units defected en masse to the Reds. Generalissimo Chang Kai-Shek collected the remnants on the Island of Formosa (the long-Japanese occupied Chinese province of Taiwan). This happened so swiftly that it alarmed even crafty Stalin who tried to put the brakes on his Chinese comrades without success.
The book examines in great detail how the State and newly-formed Defense Depts. tried to reorient themselves to these swift-running events. It was doubtful Chang could fend off an invasion of Taiwan, given his performance to date. It was unclear which Communist leader was really in control in China. Parallel to this, was Stalin's plan to keep Mao from making any diplomatic connections to the U.S. His diabolical plan was to set off the Korean War. Too much to explain here- must be read!
1). Mao Tse Tung wanted to invade either South Korea or - preferentially - Formosa, but needed Soviet naval and air power for the latter. The Russians wanted the attack to be in Korea. He opted therefore to support
2). Kim Il Sung, who wanted to invade the South, and was supported by
3). Stalin, whose goal in all of this was to prevent Mao from - like Tito - leaving the Soviet orbit. To accomplish this, he deliberately withdrew the Russian delegate from the UN security council so that a veto of UN support for resistance to the North Korean invasion, when it occurred, could not be cast (that is, the absence of the Soviet delegate was deliberate on the part of the Russians - not a faux pas as is commonly thought). There had been a real possibility that the British would recognize Red China diplomatically, but in this way Stalin ensured a united front of the West again the North Koreans and, more importantly, against Red China. The Red Chinese's only friend would be in Moscow.
4). Truman, on the other hand, realized that the American public would not support the costs of the necessary defense measures against the expansion of Communism without a stark illustration of this aggression. The US knew that the North Korean attack was coming - we had submarines off Vladivostok who watched the ships of armaments leaving and spies on the docks of North Korea who watched them arrive - but left the South Koreans vulnerable - without the arms, air and naval power they desperately requested - so that the attack could not be easily repulsed. In fact, the US planning in autumn, 1949 - the year before the invasion - envisaged a retreat to a Pusan perimeter and then a landing at Inchon! So much for MacArthur's brilliance.
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1. Stalin deliberately prodded North Korea to attack South Korea and designed the invasion to sputter...Read more