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Retrieving Bones: Stories and Poems of the Korean War
     

Retrieving Bones: Stories and Poems of the Korean War

by Philip K. Jason, W. D. Ehrhart
 
The Korean War was a major event in American history. It marked an abrupt end to the euphoria Americans felt in the wake of victory in World War II, and turned out to be the harbinger of disaster in Vietnam a decade later.

Though three years of brutal fighting resulted in millions of casualties, the final truce line of 1953 corresponded almost exactly to the

Overview

The Korean War was a major event in American history. It marked an abrupt end to the euphoria Americans felt in the wake of victory in World War II, and turned out to be the harbinger of disaster in Vietnam a decade later.

Though three years of brutal fighting resulted in millions of casualties, the final truce line of 1953 corresponded almost exactly to the positions the opponents held when the fighting began. Back home, the returning veterans met with little interest in or appreciation of what they had endured. Consequently, literary responses to the Korean War did not find an eager readership. Few people, it seemed, wanted to read about what they perceived as a backwater war that possessed neither grand scale nor apparent nobility, a war that ended not with a bang, but a whimper.

Yet an important literature has come out of the Korean War. As we mark the fiftieth anniversary of the war, these writings are well worth our attention. Many of the twelve stories and fifty poems assembled in Retrieving Bones have long been out of print and are almost impossible to find in any other source. The editors have enhanced this collection by providing maps, a chronology of the Korean War, and annotated lists of novels, works of nonfiction, and films. In a detailed introduction, Ehrhart and Jason discuss the milestones of the Korean War and place each fiction writer and poet represented into historical and literary contexts.

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Retrieving Bones performs a great service in linking the Korean War to World War II and Vietnam, helping Americans see themselves more clearly as consequential actors in one of the most ambiguous, and, if ever let fully out in the open, one of the grandest and most complex dramas of our century.
Marine Corps Gazette
Korea remains our 'forgotten war' in literature no less than in life. . . . Ehrhart and Jason have gone back over that dark and bloody ground, retrieving a remarkable number of literary 'bones," many of which foreshadow the shape of things to come and most of which speak to the essential continuity of the foot soldier's experience regardless of the war. . . . Kudos to [the editors], here on the eve of the 50th anniversary, for getting to the bottom of our Korean War amnesia and for recovering some important literary memories of that otherwise forgotten war.
San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
A book long overdue. . . . These stories are replete with napalm strikes and medevacs which many people mistake as distinctive features of Vietnam. But while most of the stories grope tentatively toward the nihilism of Vietnam, the poems in this collection come at us like lava.
Times Literary
The Korean War is also absent from literary history. . . . This is a situation that Retrieving Bones sets out to redress, and it does so successfully. There are some wonderful stories here-about contact across cultural barriers and the anguish suffered by men fighting for pointless possession of a single hill. The poems are the real revelation, though.
Korean Literature Today
In spite of a sizeable number of novels, short stories and poems, the literature of the Korean War has for the most part gone neglected in the U.S. Retrieving Bones, a collection of stories and poems of the Korean War . . . is a . . . timely effort to rectify the undeserved neglect. . . . The stories and poems in this collection cover a wide range of attitudes and sentiments towards Koreans and the Korean War. Therefore, the volume will stand as a truly representative anthology of literature on the Korean War. The book also has an excellent introduction to the historical background of the Korean War, as well as detailed biographical notes on the authors and annotated lists of works for further study.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813526386
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
07/28/1999
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

Paul Fussell
Responsibly selected and authoritatively introduced, this collection is a worthy reminder of the facts and costs of an almost-forgotten war.
(Paul Fussell, author of Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War.)
Marilyn B. Young
It is the rare anthology which achieves both literary and historical significance. Retrieving Bones is a superb collection of short fiction and poems that forcibly reminds us that the United States did not go directly from the 'good' World War II to Vietnam. In between there was Korea, and Jason and Ehrhart demonstrate why it is so important that we remember and understand it.
(Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990.)

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