Retrieving Bones: Stories and Poems of the Korean War / Edition 1

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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.

Among the writers and poets are

· James Lee Burke

· Eugene Burdick

· William Chamberlain

· Rolando Hinojosa

· Reg Saner

· Vern Sneider

· Stanford Whitmore

· Keith Wilson

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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.
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.
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.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813526393
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 940,280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Ode for the American Dead in Asia
Map: East Asia
Map: Korea - July 27, 1953
Introduction: Historical and Literary Contexts
Introduction: The Writers and Their Works
Rice 3
A Long Way from Home 14
We Build Churches, Inc 43
Cold Day, Cold Fear 53
The Trapped Battalion 63
Hoengsong (from The Useless Servants) 90
Lost Soldier 96
Sailors at Their Mourning: A Memory 102
Graves 115
Indigenous Girls 127
A Matter of Price 134
From The Secret 146
Soldier's Leave 161
Korea Bound, 1952 161
Letter Home 162
The Soldiers 163
Shellshock 164
Combat Iambic 164
Trying to Remember People I Never Really Knew 165
Burning the Years 166
The Long March 167
The Eighth Army at Chongchon 168
The January-May 1951 Slaughter 169
Night Burial Details 171
Jacob Mosqueda Wrestles with the Angels 174
A Matter of Supplies 176
Native Son Home from Asia 177
The Man Without a Face 178
Zero Minus One Minute 179
Repository 180
Re-Runs 182
They Said 182
Flag Memoir 183
Korea 1953 186
The Korean 187
Without Laying Claim 187
I Remember 188
Pusan Liberty 189
Sure 190
The Day the Dam Burst 191
The Awakening 191
The Captain 192
... ganz in Waffen 193
Guerilla Camp 195
The Circle 197
The Girl 198
Waterfront Bars 199
December, 1952 200
Commentary 202
The Ex-Officer, Navy 203
Memory of a Victory 204
Works for Further Study 205
Chronology 215
Copyrights and Permissions 223
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