Overview

Now, during the 40th anniversary of the Korean War, distinguished historian D. Clayton James offers a brilliant reinterpretation of that conflict. Focusing on the critical issue of command, he shows how the Korean War is a key to understanding American decision-making in all military encounters since World War II. Korea, the first of America's limited wars to stem the tide of world communism, was fought on unfamiliar terrain and against peasant soldiers and would become a template for subsequent American military...
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Refighting the Last War

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Overview

Now, during the 40th anniversary of the Korean War, distinguished historian D. Clayton James offers a brilliant reinterpretation of that conflict. Focusing on the critical issue of command, he shows how the Korean War is a key to understanding American decision-making in all military encounters since World War II. Korea, the first of America's limited wars to stem the tide of world communism, was fought on unfamiliar terrain and against peasant soldiers and would become a template for subsequent American military engagements, especially Vietnam. And yet, the strategic and tactical doctrines employed in Korea, as well as the weapons and equipment, were largely left over from World War II. Each time a war is fought, D. Clayton James reveals, the lessons of the last war are applied in the new context, whether or not they are appropriate to the changed circumstances. James, the master biographer of MacArthur, uses studies of military crises to examine the American high command in the Korean War. He explores the roles, leadership, personalities, and prejudices of five key commanders - President Harry S. Truman; Generals Douglas MacArthur, Matthew B. Ridgway, and Mark W. Clark; and Admiral C. Turner Joy - and then looks at six crucial issues confronting them in that conflict. From the decision made by Truman, without congsessional approval, to commit United States forces to combat in Korea, to MacArthur's persistent fight for approval of his dangerous plan to assault Inchon, to the judgment to finally open truce negotiations, these turning points illuminate the American way of command in wartime. James analyzes the ground-level results and long-term implications of each choice, and sensitively explores the course that might had followed if other options had been taken. Probing the nature and consequences of these military resolutions, James shows how the conduct of the Korean War, like every new war, bears the imprint of the preceding one. In Korea, fortunately, the
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
James ( The Year of MacArthur ), writing with freelancer Sharp, discusses the five principal American commanders of the Korean War (President Truman, Generals MacArthur, Matthew Ridgway and Mark Clark, and Admiral C. Turner Joy) and six crucial command decisions they made during the three-year conflict. According to this Virginia Military Institute history teacher, those decisions were: sending U.S. troops to fight in Korea; initiating the amphibious landing at Inchon; launching the counterattack in North Korea; settling for an armistic rather than total victory; and imposing tactical restrictions on ground, sea and air operations. What sets this book apart from other histories of the Korean War is the original thesis that both sides, without a word of formal agreement, set up an intricate system of limitations specifically designed to avert a general war. James argues that the kind of devastating American conquest that was possible in the post-WW II era would have guaranteed the eruption of another and more terrible global war. This is a fresh look at the ``strange and ugly war'' which, according to James's cogent analysis, was unique in its self-imposed limitations. (Dec.)
Library Journal
James (military history, Virginia Military Inst., and author of the three-volume Years of MacArthur , LJ 4/1/85) has reinterpreted America's first limited war. He analyzes the roles, leadership abilities, personalities, and prejudices of five American commanders--Truman, MacArthur, Ridgway, Mark Clark, and C. Turnery Joy--and then looks at six crucial decisions confronting them. Among the topics discussed are Truman's decision to go to war without the consent of Congress; MacArthur's preoccupation with Inchon and the Yalu; and Joy's two-year stint negotiating with the Communists. James argues that the Korean War is the key to understanding American decision making in all subsequent conflicts and concludes that each new war is fought using the lessons of the last war. This is hardly a new or startling conclusion. Graduates of the Army War College and specialists in civilian-military relationships in a democracy will find this work of interest, but it is too specialized for the general reader. For large collections of military history.-- Stanley Itkin, Hillside P.L., New Hyde Park, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451602371
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2010
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 290
  • File size: 5 MB

Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Preface
Prologue: The Last War Revisited 1
Pt. I The Senior Commanders
1 Truman: The Right Thing to Do 11
2 MacArthur: The Flawed Military Genius 29
3 Ridgway: From Wolfhound to Koje-Do 53
4 Admiral Joy: Commander and Negotiator 79
5 Clark: The Fading of Glory 102
Pt. II The Key Command Decisions
6 Sending Americans to Fight in Korea 131
7 MacArthur's Grand Obsession: Inchon 157
8 The Liberation of North Korea 179
9 MacArthur's Dare Is Called 196
10 Try for Victory or Settle for an Armistice? 218
11 From Total to Limited War 232
Notes 247
Index 265
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2004

    Lots of Facts, But Kinda Dull

    This was the 1st book I've read from cover-to-cover about the Korean War. This book contains lots of facts and enlightened me on some topics that I had never considered before such as the birth of the limited war and just how close SouthEast Asia was to breaking out into all out war versus containing it just to the Korean peninsula. However, the book tends to be redundant with some of the subject matter such as the relationship of Truman and MacArthur and at times it starts to become very dull and read like a research paper. It's worth reading, but I wouldn't expect it to be a real page-turner.

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