A Christmas Far from Home: An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival during the Korean War

A Christmas Far from Home: An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival during the Korean War

by Stanley Weintraub
     
 

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The day after Thanksgiving, five months into the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur flew to American positions in the north and grandly announced an end-the-war-by-Christmas offensive, despite recent evidence of intervention by Mao's Chinese troops. Marching north in plunging temperatures, General Edward Almond's X Corps, which included a Marine division under…  See more details below

Overview


The day after Thanksgiving, five months into the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur flew to American positions in the north and grandly announced an end-the-war-by-Christmas offensive, despite recent evidence of intervention by Mao's Chinese troops. Marching north in plunging temperatures, General Edward Almond's X Corps, which included a Marine division under the able leadership of General Oliver Smith, encountered little resistance. But thousands of Chinese, who had infiltrated across the frozen Yalu River, were lying in wait and would soon trap tens of thousands of US troops.

Led by the Marines, an overwhelmed X Corps evacuated the frigid, mountainous Chosin Reservoir vastness and fought a swarming enemy and treacherous snow and ice to reach the coast. Weather, terrain, Chinese firepower, and a 4,000-foot chasm made escape seem impossible in the face of a vanishing Christmas. But endurance and sacrifice prevailed, and the last troopships weighed anchor on Christmas Eve.

In the tradition of his Silent Night and Pearl Harbor Christmas, Stanley Weintraub presents another gripping narrative of a wartime Christmas season.

A Military Book Club main selection

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Stanley Weintraub's previous wartime Christmas books

Pearl Harbor Christmas

"Erudite, sweeping, and contemplative—classic Weintraub"Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating account of Churchill's history-making visit"Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

"An authoritative account...[Weintraub's] ability to meld together so many disparate elements...in such a short, swift-moving book is exemplary."Richmond Times-Dispatch

Silent Night

"Stanley Weintraub's poignant account of the day one of the worst of wars took a holiday sounds like the stuff of fiction, but it was the sort of event that fiction can only imitate. No wonder that his book reads like a novel, a true story that has the power to haunt."—Robert Cowley, founding editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History

"An emotionally stirring, uplifting, yet ultimately sad story brilliantly told by a gifted writer"Booklist (starred review)

"Weintraub has brought an obscure and bizarre incident to life with a flair that gives the reader a detailed glimpse of a unique Christmas story."Seattle Times

"Deeply moving"Boston Globe

Booklist, 10/15/14

“[Weintraub] portrays MacArthur as ego-driven and politically ambitious; he surrounded himself with yes-men when he would have benefited from those advising caution…The heroes in this account are the troops in the field who endured appalling conditions, maintained discipline, and staved off complete collapse.”

Roanoke Times, 11/2/14
“A story of heroism and cowardice, of brilliant leadership and bungling stupidity, of mud- and snow-slogging endurance on the part of an assortment of troops of many nations, in obedience to a call of duty from a briefly united United Nations, against the tide of North Korean and Chinese Communist forces. And overlaying all, the lash of a brutal and relentless winter campaign in some of the most rugged mountains in Asia…Though primarily of interest to Korea veterans and military history buffs, this modest volume may find favor with a reading public who love brave tales of danger and courage, well-researched and engagingly composed. Perhaps it may also serve as a warning of the perils of unpreparedness, on which far too many Americans seem ready to rely.”

Acadiana LifeStyle, December 2014
“A wonderful tribute to our soldiers who were placed in harm’s way by the arrogance of a politically minded general.”

InfoDad.com, 12/11/14
“[Weintraub] gives readers a ‘you are there’ feeling for the Christmas season of 1950, five months after the war started…It is a celebration of the common soldier and a condemnation of the know-nothing (or know-little) command structure. Well-written, with a strong sense of place, by an author who, after all, himself served in the conflict.”

USA Today, 12/15/14
“Weintraub does not give readers a joyous holiday tale but he does provide a useful one. It shows the dangers when commanders fail to use intelligence wisely and let hubris get the better of them.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/14/14
“Weintraub tells this story with the sort of growl toward incompetent command earned by a man who himself served in the trenches…A Christmas Far From Home ultimately warrants its subtitle: It is an epic tale of courage and survival in a war that is too often forgotten by folks back home.”

Norfolk Virinian-Pilot, 12/14/14
“Weintraub, himself a Korea veteran, expertly delineates the unraveling disaster for the trapped, frozen, dispirited men on the ground.”

New York Post, 12/23/14
“Weintraub provides a detailed explanation of what went wrong with the American ‘end-the-war-by-Christmas’ strategy.”

Military Heritage, March 2015
“The reader is given an all-around view of the battle from the foxhole and evacuation routes up to MacArthur’s planning room. The focus is on the soldier at the front, however, making this book a very enjoyable read. The author is known for writing of soldier’s experiences at war during Christmas, and this book can only improve his reputation for delivering engaging histories of men in combat.”

Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-27
The tragic tale of how the arrogance of a general led to disastrous consequences for the American troops in North Korea in 1950. "Home by Christmas" was Gen. MacArthur's precipitous forecast to President Harry S. Truman and the U.S. troops stationed in the mountains of North Korea during that first bitter winter of the Korean War. Prolific historian and Korean War veteran Weintraub (Young Mr. Roosevelt: FDR's Introduction to War, Politics, and Life, 2012, etc.) concentrates on the incongruous movement of two enemy armies: The United Nations forces (most of which were American, under MacArthur's leadership) had been divided after the invasion at Inchon in September, with the Eighth Army moving up the west coast and the newly created X Corps having sailed all the way around South Korea to land on the east coast well above the 38th Parallel, despite the warning by the Chinese. The North Koreans and their Chinese helpers, under the brilliant direction of Mao Zedong, who was amassing his troops at the Manchurian border, secretly slipped across the Yalu River by night. MacArthur's initial success at Inchon had allowed him carte blanche in subsequently directing the U.N. effort, though he was stationed in Tokyo and only occasionally flew in and around Korea, usually boasting to reporters. Determined to unify the country, ignoring intelligence sources that reported Chinese movement toward the border, and confident in his public relations coup to bring home the troops by Christmas, MacArthur, with his "diminishing reserves of shrewdness" and "disproportionate ego," was sure that he "could not be wrong." The general was abetted by his yes men, such as Edward "Ned" Almond of the X Corps, and passive acceptance by Truman. Weintraub expertly delineates the unraveling disaster for the entrapped, frozen, dispirited troops on the ground.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306822322
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
10/28/2014
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
422,679
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author


Stanley Weintraub is an award-winning author of notable histories and biographies, including the bestselling books on wartime Christmas seasons Pearl Harbor Christmas and Silent Night. A National Book Award finalist and Guggenheim Fellow, he earned a Bronze Star as a young officer in the Korean War. He lives in Newark, Delaware.

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