The Marines of Autumn: A Novel of the Korean War

The Marines of Autumn: A Novel of the Korean War

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by James Brady

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War has been the inspiration of such great novels as The Red Badge of Courage and A Farewell to Arms, and daring feats of courage and tragic mistakes have been the foundation for such classic works. Now, for the first time ever, the Korean War has a novel that captures that courage and sacrifice.

When Captain Thomas Verity, USMC, is called


War has been the inspiration of such great novels as The Red Badge of Courage and A Farewell to Arms, and daring feats of courage and tragic mistakes have been the foundation for such classic works. Now, for the first time ever, the Korean War has a novel that captures that courage and sacrifice.

When Captain Thomas Verity, USMC, is called back to action, he must leave his Georgetown home, career, and young daughter and rush to Korea to monitor Chinese radio transmissions. At first acting in an advisory role, he is abruptly thrust into MacArthur's last daring and disastrous foray-the Chosin Reservoir campaign-and then its desperate retreat.

Time magazine at the time recounted the retreat this way: "The running fight of the Marines...was a battle unparalleled in U.S. military history. It had some aspects of Bataan, some of Anzio, some of Dunkirk, some of Valley Forge, and some of 'the retreat of the 10,000' as described in Xenophon's Anabasis."

The Marines of Autumn is a stunning, shattering novel of war illuminated only by courage, determination, and Marine Corps discipline. And by love: of soldier for soldier, of men and their women, and of a small girl in Georgetown, whose father promised she would dance with him on the bridges of Paris. A child Captain Tom Verity fears he may never see again.

In The Marines of Autumn, James Brady captures our imagination and shocks us into a new understanding of war.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Columnist and author Brady (The Coldest War) has written the most powerful and stunning war novel since 1997's The Black Flower by Howard Bahr. In 1950, soon after the start of the Korean War, the men of the 1st Marine Division found themselves surrounded by 100,000 Communist Chinese soldiers at the famous battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Brady is a Marine veteran of the forgotten war, and he writes colorfully and convincingly about how 20,000 Americans fought their way out of the Communist trap in the most bitterly cold winter weather ever experienced on the Korean peninsula. Reserve Marine Capt. Tom Verity, a young widower and a single parent, is recalled to active duty in the autumn of 1950; he is a Chinese linguist whose skills are badly needed. Gen. Douglas MacArthur has unwisely sent the Marine division into North Korea with orders to march to the Chinese border; despite MacArthur's flippant assurances, the Marines suspect the Red Chinese are waiting for them in the Taebaek Mountains. Verity is to join the forward battalion and gather intelligence for the Marine brass. Aided by conscientious, capable Gunnery Sergeant Tate and jeep-stealing, wise-cracking Corporal Izzo, Verity's efforts pay off, but it is too late. The Communists attack relentlessly, day and night, and with temperatures down to 25 degrees below zero, everyone freezes. The American withdrawal back to the seaport of Wonsan is a horrific nightmare of fatigue, frostbite, wounds and death. After days of marching and fighting, Verity, Tate and Izzo are about to reach safety when a single sniper's bullet changes all their fates. Brady's narrative captures the viciousness of combat, the brutal weather conditions, the forbidding terrain and the Marines' display of extraordinary courage, sacrifice, and valor. Incisively mapping out the fine lines between hope and despair, heroism and cowardice, this moving novel is a model of historical and moral accuracy. (June) FYI: This is just one of several upcoming novels commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Chosin Reservoir campaign. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
On the 50th anniversary of the Korean War come these two novels about marines in combat. Both follow a marine captain through the rigors of infantry fighting to the climax of the Chosin Reservoir campaign in which the marines were besieged by over 100,000 Red Chinese troops. Both reflect on the home life left behind; both strive for insight into, and understanding of, the professional soldier's mind. Beyond that they are quite different. Simmons, a retired brigadier general, held a company command in the war and wrote his novel shortly after returning. For personal reasons, he decided against publication. Now after a distinguished career as author and corps historian, he has released an absorbing tale. His marines are businesslike, dedicated, skilled in their jobs, and generally free from fear, second-guessing, or regret. They understand the demands of war and accept the hardships as part of their profession, remaining human, thoughtful, and complex throughout. Simmons's depth of understanding, insider knowledge, and informed compassion are especially effective. Brady, author of a series of novels set in the Hamptons, is also a veteran of the war. His novel follows Tom Verity, a new father, recent widower, and veteran of Guadalcanal, who is reactivated against his will and thrown into the fray to monitor Chinese radio transmissions. This takes him to Chosin. Brady's work is more explicitly exploitative of the reader's emotions, and he misses no opportunity to savage MacArthur's bad judgment and overweening ambition. Nor does he skip a chance to glorify the heroes on the ground. There is much interest in the upcoming anniversary, and many libraries will want to add Korean War material.Buy Simmons first and Brady's if demand exists. In either case, add recent histories as well.--Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
School Library Journal
YA-Through vivid writing, readers observe and almost feel the cold, filth, and deadly danger of the Chosin Reservoir campaign, in which several regiments of Chinese troops unexpectedly appeared in North Korea as the Americans and South Koreans moved North to "win the war by Christmas," 1950. The undermanned American troops were trapped in the mountains, necessitating a retreat while under constant attack. The only road ran along one narrow defile, slippery with ice and intermittent new snow; Chinese troops paralleled the retreat on the opposite side of the crest. Our troops were thus strung out for miles, traveling slowly and suffering from the effects of below-zero temperatures as well as sniping and/or attacks from the Chinese. Brady describes episodes of heroism and bravery among the long-suffering men, as they slowly make their way south to safety. This is a Marine story, and neither MacArthur, the Army, nor the South Korean troops come off looking very well. The hero is Marine Reserve Captain Thomas Verity, called upon for a short stint in intelligence work because he grew up in China and speaks the language. His character is loosely based on Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island, who served in this campaign. The flashbacks of Verity with his wife and daughter in Georgetown don't ring quite true or seem necessary, but they don't mar the overall effect, which is to make readers appreciate all soldiers' sacrifices and heroism.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Taking a break from his fluffy satires of summering glitterati (The House That Ate the Hamptons, 1999, etc.), Parade and Advertising Age columnist Brady, delivers a bitter, despairing novel of the valiant but futile stand by US Marines against the Chinese Army at the Chosin Reservoir.. Having survived combat at Guadalcanal, US Marine Captain Tom Verity had had enough of war. In 1950, Verity, a widower with a three-year old daughter, looks forward to another semester teaching Chinese language at Georgetown when he's called back into uniform and sent to Korea. There, he's given a jeep, a fancy radio, a respectful, history-quoting Sergeant Tate, and the wisecracking, street-wise South Philadelphia driver Izzo. Ordered to head north, to the snowy Korean highlands bordering China, he is to listen to Chinese radio transmissions and determine if the they're aiding Korean Communist forces. A pawn in a bureaucratic conflict between Marine commanders and General MacArthur, who has divided American forces along the Korea-Chinese border in anticipation of a quick end to the hostilities, Verity quickly discovers what the Marines have suspected and MacArthur refuses to believe: that the Chinese have mobilized to invade from the north. After an agonizing build-up, they attack in human waves, demolishing entire battalions before retreating into the snowbound hills. Verity, Tate, and Izzo fight their way through a series of devastating, gut-wrenching combat scenes, then join the remnants of the American forces on a humiliating retreat through punishing attacks and brutal cold. Their final, tragic (and somewhat unconvincing) response to so much wasted life is to make sure that one of theirfallencomrades will not be left on foreign soil. Gloomy, gory, and furiously critical of MacArthur, Brady's second take on the Korean War (after his 1990 memoir, The Coldest War) throws ice water on mindlessly gung-ho military thrillers, concluding that the only good things about war are the honor and decency of the few good men who fight it. (two pages maps, not seen)

From the Publisher

“The privation undergone by the U.S. Marines at the 'Frozen Chosin' in Korea, 1950, stands with the monumental infantry ordeals in the history of warfare. Now James Brady, who himself fought as a Marine rifle platoon leader in the same Taebaek Mountains of North Korea, brings this annal of valor to life in prose that is at once brutal, humorous, harrowing, and indelible. The Marines of Autumn takes its place among the unforgettable chronicles of war crafted by men, to paraphrase Whitman, 'who were there, who knew, who suffered.' Outstanding.” —Steven Pressfield, author of Tides of War and Gates of Fire

“In this thoroughly engrossing novel Brady captures the way the Marines of 1950 thought, talked, fought, and died. His Marines of Autumn are not the Marines of World War II or Vietnam, but the Marines of Korea, and a uniquely fascinating breed they were...At last we have a major Korean War novel!” —Martin Russ, author of Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950

The Marines of Autumm is a you-are-there epic story that portrays the horror and the heroism of the corps' finest yet most critical hour. A truly gripping tale of a war that America has sadly forgotten.” —David Hackworth, U.S. soldier, Korea, 1950

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St. Martin's Press
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Meet the Author

James Brady was a baby-faced Marine in charge of a combat platoon during the Korean War. He captured these experiences in his highly praised memoir, The Coldest War. His weekly columns for Advertising Age and Parade magazines were considered must-reads by millions. He lived in Manhattan and East Hampton, New York.

James Brady commanded a rifle platoon during the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor. He captured these experiences in his books The Scariest Place in the World, The Marine, his New York Times bestselling novels Warning of War and The Marines of Autumn, and in his highly praised memoir The Coldest War. His weekly columns for Parade magazine and were considered must-reads by millions. He lived in Manhattan and East Hampton, New York.

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Marines of Autumn: A Novel of the Korean War 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a very exciting book that sweeps you up and tosses you right next to the marines. This book provides great insight into a war that seems to be forgotten war. The book shows the true nature of war from almost every angle. From the grunts in the trenches fighting in the bitter cold to the officers in the warm tents with all the luxuries of home. You see the marine's hardest and finest hours In the book The Marines of Autumn by James Brady, a Marine captain is thrown back in to action and sent into Korea to monitor Chinese radio traffic and ends up in a fight for the lives of him and his men. The story begins as the Allied forces are pushing the North Koreans back to the Chosin Reservoir. Communist China sends masses of troops to attack in early autumn and fought the military back over 100 miles to the coast during harsh winter. When Captain Verity arrives in Korea he is given a radio and the assistance of Gunnery Sergeant Tate with the radio they pick up a driver Corporal Izzo. The three head out and drive all over the countryside and deciphering Chinese radio traffic. When winter begins the men are sent up to the front and get stuck fighting the Chinese, protecting hills as the Chinese attacked day and night. Verity and his men return to the town where a base of operation is set up only to find that the marines are heading out. They fallback going from town to town while the Chinese stick to their heels. In the depths of the winter the marines make a long trek down to the coast with many of the soldiers freezing to death. Overall, I thought that the book is one of the best I have read the ending is slightly upsetting but is most often the truth about war. I was surprised about how the senior officers acted vastly incompetent in their decisions about the evacuation. One thing that was confusing is that the story will go from the main story to flash backs and little stories of Verity's daughter. But it all fits together in the end.
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Interesting mix of interaction, introspection, & pathos.
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paw1105 More than 1 year ago
An excellent study in Korean War History. Well written and easy to understand. It was hard not to read it all in one sitting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author has written, yet again, about the people who are willing to put their lives on the line for our nation. The author takes us back to the days following the his Warning of War and develops a character who you watch develop as a Marine and as an individual. His character development takes a different tack from that taken by William Butterfield in his The Corps series and focuses on one person and the events and people he deals with in completing the tasks at hand. What is described is not always pretty; but, war and its effect on people never is. It changes people and Brady shows how its changes them, and also how they struggle to retain their inate sense of right and wrong.
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Tamara Westbrooks More than 1 year ago
Nobody is very interested in the Korean War, or wants us to be. This book tore open the first horriffic winter at Chosin,and the resultant retreat that folllowed. Excellent novel.
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