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Origins of the Korean War, Vol. 2: The Roaring of the Cataract, 1947-1950 Paperback – June 23, 1992
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About the Author
Bruce Cumings is Norman and Edna Freehling Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many books, including North Korea: Another Country and Koreas Place in the Sun: A Modern History. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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But in volume 2 Cumings did a much better job on the politics of the war, though I find his distinction between rollback and containment a bit too forced.
You can forget about volume one, just buy volume 2 to get to one version of the causes, and consequences of the Korean War from a revisionist perspective, with which Cumings points out that the ROK was a puppet regime run by Japanese colonization era collaborationists and war time traitors (ethnic Korean police and Imperial Japanese Army memebrs), who were contantly raiding North Korea to provoke a war of unification, while the DPRK was run by communist partisans who were the only ones fighting the Japs (as well as the Chinese Nationalists in China), whose desire to unify Korea under her own brand of Stalinist communism, led her to respond to the constant provocations, raids and incursios by the ROKA across the 38th Parallel with a massve counterattack once her volunteers returned from China, and that the unexpected collapse of the ROKA in turn led to a full scale invasion on her own initiative. There are food for thought in Volume 2 about the duplicity, complicity and treachery of the ROK, the Chinese natioalist, McArthur and the US Army and CIT in enlisting the defeated Japs to re-invade China and Korea, all in the name of democracy!
On page 659, in the first full paragraph, he writes that when the KPA (Korean Peoples Army) threatened a full envelopment as early as July 26th, General Walker ordered a military withdrawal from Taegu and that the next day, MacArthur flew to Korea and demanded that further withdrawals cease, and that shortly thereafter the 2d Infantry Division landed at Pusan and was rushed to the line at Chinju. First, There was NO military withdrawal from Taegu. Second, MacArthur did NOT tell General Walker to cease any more withdrawals. General Walker did not issue his "Stand or Die" order until July 29th. Had MacArthur given him that ultimatum on July 27th, Walker would not have delayed for two days to issue his order. Third, the 29th Infantry Regiment arrived in Korea on July 25th and was attached to the 19th Infantry Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division. They moved to the Hadong, Anui and Chinju area with the First Battalion of the 19th Regiment arriving there by 5 PM (1700 hours) on July 27th (The same day that MacArthur Arrived in Korea to see General Walker). At NO time did any elements of the 2d Infantry Division get within 30 miles of Chinju. When I confronted Professor Cumings with this documentation, he had two comments: "I wish I had this information 25 years ago." and "I was not doing military history." Most of the documents supporting this information was declassified and available to anyone well prior to 1970.
On page 651 he wrote that by September 8, 1950, MacArthur had been sent all available combat trained units except the 82d Airborne. The U.S. also had fully trained and staffed combat units in Europe, but maybe Professor Cumings meant to say ..stationed in the U.S. The 11th Airborne Division was also fully trained and staffed, but it also remained in the U.S. The 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne was not sent to Korea until early October 1950. They did not make their first combat drop until late October 1950.
Many of Professor Cumings end notes are incomplete when it comes to citing complete locations to documents. Additionally, he often includes multiple source documents in each endnote. For example endnote 135 for Chapter 21, page 749/750 refers to a Records Group 319, but gives no location. Later on in the same end note he mentions Hoyt S. Vandenburg Papers and Harry S. Truman Library. In most cases he does not provide complete location information, mostly Records Group (RG) and box number. If the location is the National Archives, a researcher needs all of the location information listed towards the end of the first paragraph of this review.
Beginning on page 753 he writes about napalmng everything ahead of the advancing Chinese and North Korean forces and behind retreating UN forces to create a wilderness of scorched earth. To support his point, at the top of page 755 he quotes PART of an article by New York Times reporter George Barrett's "a macabre tribute to the totality of modern war" in a village north of Anyang. The entire article is quoted with the part he quoted printed in Capitals: "A napalm raid hit the village three or four days ago when the Chinese were holding up the advance and nowhere in the village have they buried the dead because there is nobody left to do so. his correspondent came across one old woman, the only one who seemed to be left alive, dazedly hanging up some clothes in a blackened courtyard filled with the bodies of four members of her family. THE INHABITANTS THROUGHOUT THE VILLAGE AND IN THE FIELDS WERE CAUGHT AND KILLED AND KEPT IN THE EXACT POSTURES THEY HELD WHEN THE NAPALM STRUCK - A MAN ABOUT TO GET ON HIS BICYCLE, FIFTY BOYS AND GIRLS PLAYING IN AN ORPHANAGE, A HOUSEWIFE STRANGELY UNMARKED, HOLDING IN HER HAND A PAGE TORN FROM A SEARS-ROEBUCK CATALOGUE CRAYONED AT MAIL ORDER NO. 3,811,294 FOR A $2.98 'BEWITCHING BED JACKET - CORAL.' There be almost two hundred dead in the tiny hamlet." The complete story was quoted on page 298 of I.F. Stone's "Hidden History of the Korean War" and also in George Barrett's obituary, which was published in the New York Times on November 22, 1984. Professor Cumings deliberately omitted part of the article because it did not support the point he was trying to make.
The fact that George Barrett made up the entire story doesn't excuse Professor Cumings action! My reasons for believing the story to be false follow:
FIRST, napalm kills primarily by burning and no one hit by flaming jellied gasoline is going to remain in the same position they held when hit by it. There is also a rare occurrence in which napalm kills by asphyxiation because napalm ignites, it uses up all of the oxygen in the immediate area, so people die from lack of oxygen, but their bodies are also severely burned. SECOND, there is an online archive of Sears-Roebuck catalogs. One item from the 1959 Fall and Winter catalog is a Housecoat, mail order number O27 KM 7735, $3.95. Another is a Secretary desk-Cabinet Number 20 KM 3065, shipping weight 133 pounds, $174.95. Therefore the mail order number given by Barrett is obviously a phony! The pattern of mail order numbers that I have listed is consistent in all four catalogs that I looked at for 1949 and 1950. THIRD, it seems highly unlikely to me that there would be fifty orphans in a village of about 200 people. FOURTH,why would a woman whose village had been occupied by Chinese troops for the previous six to nine weeks be filling out a Sears-Roebuck catalog form?
When I questioned Professor Cumings, He insisted that mail order catalogs were common in Japan for soldiers to give them to their girl friends. In my two and a half years in Japan from April 1947 through November 1949, I never even heard of such a thing. Professor Cumings insisted that the soldiers who came to Korea from Japan must have brought catalogs with them. The first soldiers in the Anyang area were from units of the 7th Infantry Division who made the landing at Inchon. I am sure they had more important things to bring than a 1,300 plus page Sears-Roebuck catalog. They were involved in almost continuous combat in the area until they left to take part in the landings on the other (East) coast. The troops coming up from the Pusan perimeter were also pretty involved in combat, and likewise, they had more crucial things to pack in their field and combat packs than a large, heavy catalog. During the major Chinese offensive beginning in late November 1950, troops retreated through that same area, again preoccupied with saving their lives, not handing out catalogs to local women. In the counter-offensive which began in mid January, all troops passing through that area were pretty heavily involved in combat.