Short History of the Korean War

Short History of the Korean War

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by James L. Stokesbury
     
 

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As pungent and concise as his short histories of both world wars, Stokesbury's survey of "the half war" takes a broad view and seems to leave nothing out but the details. The first third covers the North Korean invasion of June 1950, the Pusan perimeter crisis, MacArthur's master stroke at Inchon and the intervention by Chinese forces that November. At this point,

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Overview

As pungent and concise as his short histories of both world wars, Stokesbury's survey of "the half war" takes a broad view and seems to leave nothing out but the details. The first third covers the North Korean invasion of June 1950, the Pusan perimeter crisis, MacArthur's master stroke at Inchon and the intervention by Chinese forces that November. At this point, other popular histories of the war reach the three-quarter mark, ending often with a cursory summary of the comparatively undramatic three-and-a-half years required to bring the war to its ambiguous conclusion on July 27, 1953. Stokesbury renders the latter period as interesting as the operational fireworks of the first six months: the Truman-MacArthur controversy; the political limitations on U.S. air power; the need for the Americans to fight the war as cheaply as possible, due to NATO commitments; the prolonged negotiations at Panmunjom over the prisoner-exchange issue; and the effect of the war on the home front. Whether the United States could have/should have stayed out of the war in the first place comes under discussion: "no" on both counts, according to the author.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As pungent and concise as his short histories of both world wars, Stokesbury's survey of ``the half war'' takes a broad view and seems to leave nothing out but the details. The first third covers the North Korean invasion of June 1950, the Pusan perimeter crisis, MacArthur's master stroke at Inchon and the intervention by Chinese forces that November. At this point, other popular histories of the war reach the three-quarter mark, ending often with a cursory summary of the comparatively undramatic three-and-a-half years required to bring the war to its ambiguous conclusion on July 27, 1953. Stokesbury renders the latter period as interesting as the operational fireworks of the first six months: the Truman-MacArthur controversy; the political limitations on U.S. air power; the need for the Americans to fight the war as cheaply as possible, due to NATO commitments; the prolonged negotiations at Panmunjom over the prisoner-exchange issue; and the effect of the war on the home front. Whether the United States could have/should have stayed out of the war in the first place comes under discussion: ``no'' on both counts, according to the author. (August)
Library Journal
Reducing an entire war to manageable length is a high literary art form, and Professor Stokesbury has mastered it. In the case of this Korean War history, short does not mean banal condensation or a dismal list of statistics and facts. Rather, Stokesbury begins from scratch and describes and interprets each phase of the war, as he did in his readable and well-known short histories of World Wars I and II. The narrative makes good sense of the infantry's complicated battlefield movements; and his interpretation of the air war is exemplary. The result is a concise but totally independent history that can stand alongside any of the recent crop of new Korean War titles. Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Los Angeles

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688063771
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/28/1988
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
352

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