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Operation Broken Reed: Truman's Secret North Korean Spy Mission That Averted World War III
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Operation Broken Reed: Truman's Secret North Korean Spy Mission That Averted World War III

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by Arthur L. Boyd
 

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At the height of the Korean War, President Truman launched one of the most important intelligence - gathering operations in history. So valuable were the mission's findings about the North Korean-Soviet-Chinese alliance that it is no stretch to say they prevented World War III. Only one man — sworn to secrecy for a half-century—survived Operation Broken Reed

Overview

At the height of the Korean War, President Truman launched one of the most important intelligence - gathering operations in history. So valuable were the mission's findings about the North Korean-Soviet-Chinese alliance that it is no stretch to say they prevented World War III. Only one man — sworn to secrecy for a half-century—survived Operation Broken Reed. Arthur Boyd recalls his role as cryptographer on a team of Army Rangers, Navy Frogmen, Air Force officers, and CIA operatives that posed as the captured crew of a B-29 bomber in January 1952. Given cover names and cyanide capsules in case of discovery, the men were transported by Chinese Nationalists wearing Communist uniforms across North Korea, where undercover allies delivered information about troop strengths, weaponry, and intention. Fraught with danger, the mission came apart on its last day when the Americans came under fire from Chinese forces wise to the operation. The members of Broken Reed supplied Truman with proof of massive Chinese and Soviet buildups and a heavy Soviet bomber group in Manchuria, fully loaded with atomic weapons. With the potential destruction of the world outlined in front of him, Truman chose not to escalate the Korean War, saving millions of lives.

Editorial Reviews

Military Officer
A fascinating account.

Publishers Weekly

Career army officer Boyd breaks his half-century of silence to tell the remarkable story of a top-secret "black" operation behind enemy lines during the Korean War. Code-named Broken Reed, the operation sent a 10-man team into North Korea to collect badly needed intelligence "on enemy capabilities and intentions" to aid President Harry Truman in making "a fateful decision": to escalate the conflict or accept a stalemate. Boyd, a young signal corps lieutenant, was selected for the mission because of his top-secret clearance and his knowledge of Morse code. Boyd would transmit whatever intelligence the team gathered to a communications aircraft over the Sea of Japan. Inserted into North Korea by submarine, the team collected and transmitted intelligence that "revealed a staggering enemy buildup" and convinced Truman not to escalate the conflict. Discovered and ambushed, seven of the team were killed and three wounded-two grievously. In a desperate flight, the wounded reached their rendezvous point and were rescued by a waiting ship. If true-and there are "no records, transcripts, or evidence" of the operation and Boyd is the "only known survivor"-this suspenseful saga of heroism and sacrifice is further proof that truth can be stranger than fiction. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

By late 1951, President Truman had become increasingly concerned about the possibility that the Soviet and the Chinese Communist forces were going to get much more involved in the Korean conflict. According to Boyd, he therefore secretly authorized Operation Broken Reed, a Special Access Program (or so-called black operation) that was to traverse Korea in January 1952 and gather military intelligence. A team of army rangers, air force officers, navy frogmen, and CIA operatives pretended to be crew members of a captured B-29 bomber, who, under the guard of Chinese nationalist military personnel posing as Chinese Communists, moved in military vehicles across the North Korean countryside gathering information about Soviet and Chinese military forces massing quietly in the North Korean countryside. Boyd served as a cryptographer for the operation, signaling information back to American forces. The Chinese forces ultimately discovered the true purpose of the small caravan, and all but Boyd were killed. Sworn to secrecy, Boyd waited over 50 years to tell his amazing story. There is no official or unofficial record of Operation Broken Reed, but Boyd believes the work of this small band of men helped convince Truman that it would be disastrous to expand the war into North Korea. A chilling story and, if true, certainly an amazing one in the annals of wartime espionage. For larger collections.
—Ed Goedeken

Kirkus Reviews
Controversial, entertaining and sometimes plausible account of a long-secret, behind-the-lines 1952 mission into North Korea. The North's 1950 invasion of South Korea caught the United States by surprise. Six months later, massive Chinese forces descended on advancing UN troops, again catching America unaware. A furious President Truman realized that neither the newly formed CIA nor the extensive military intelligence services had reliable sources of information in the Far East, let alone in Korea itself. As a temporary fix, he approved a bizarre covert operation whose members were sworn to secrecy until 1998. Nine volunteers landed by submarine inside North Korea, where they met a unit of Chinese Nationalist soldiers wearing communist uniforms. Posing as the captured crew of a B-29 bomber, the Americans and their fake captors drove across North Korea, picking up reports from local spies and radioing the findings. A helicopter was to collect the men when they reached the opposite coast, but communist forces ambushed the group, and only the author survived. Boyd, a communications specialist responsible for encoding and transmission, writes that he was staggered at the spies' findings, which revealed new armies of well-trained and eager Chinese and North Koreans, a steady stream of supplies flowing south, extensive fortifications along the coast and behind the lines and airfields in Manchuria where Russian nuclear-armed bombers waited in case UN forces approached too near. The author maintains that this knowledge prevented World War III by convincing Truman it would be suicide to advance further. Some readers may question this assertion. Historians agree that essentially all spies sent toNorth Korea were either killed or captured and forced to send false information. Readers who suspend disbelief will encounter an absorbing, technically accurate story of military derring-do from a half-forgotten war. Agent: Al Zuckerman/Writers House LLC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786732616
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
03/05/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,033,090
File size:
577 KB

Meet the Author

In August 1951, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur L. Boyd, U.S. Army (Ret), was a twenty-three-year old first lieutenant serving in Germany when he applied for a Top Secret “black intelligence” mission during the Korean War.

The mission director, operating out of the Pentagon and answering directly to President Harry S. Truman, picked Boyd to serve on a ten-man military intelligence team. Lieutenant Boyd was responsible for encryption and transmission of twenty intelligence reports collected from operatives within North Korea. Reports were relayed to Truman under an “Only-for-the-President's-Eyes” order.

Following Operation Broken Reed, a successful operation that claimed the lives of seventy-five brave patriots, Boyd returned to Germany and was promoted to captain. As a captain, Boyd commanded units at Fort Bliss, Texas; within the 7th Infantry Division in Korea; at Fort Benning, Georgia; and at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Promoted to major, Boyd served as Chief of Communication Division for Fort Richardson. After his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, Boyd served as Chief, Communication Service at Fort Knox, Kentucky, until his retirement in 1967.

Colonel Boyd moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he graduated from Bethel Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. After graduation, he served as a chaplain at the Metropolitan and North Memorial Hospitals in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After completing his tenure as a chaplain, he served as a financial consultant with a Saint Paul firm. Colonel Boyd now lives with his wife of sixty-one years in Tennessee.

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Operation Broken Reed: Truman's Secret North Korean Spy Mission That Averted World War III 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A well written retelling of one of America's most important clandestine operations. A great retelling of what it means to sacrafice for what you believe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most fantastic military intelligence mission that has come out of any war. I was held spellbound by the action that ten Americans, 66 Nationalist Chinese, and 22 operatives were involved in to carry out a mission that was orchestrated direct out of the White House. Operation Broken Reed is a suspense filled chronical of a mission that could be viewed as a pivotal point in World history.