MacArthur's War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero

MacArthur's War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero

Audiobook(Cassette - Abridged, 4 Cassettes)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743505352
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 05/01/2000
Edition description: Abridged, 4 Cassettes
Product dimensions: 4.08(w) x 7.04(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

Stanley Weintraub is Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University. He has written acclaimed works of military history on World Wars I and II, including A Stillness Heard Round the World and Long Day's Journey into War. He lives in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania.

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Preface

This was "my" war. While I have written about other wars, for me Korea is different. I was there.

Blotched with rust and sagging in the water, the weary old ferryboat Kango Maru did not look like a seagoing troopship, but it was my ticket to the war. At Sasebo, a naval base in southern Kyushu which we had taken over from the Japanese in 1945, troop trains from Yokohama disgorged us near the docks for the voyage to Pusan and then to replacement depots in the no longer peaceful "Land of the Morning Calm." The water was rough, and in the darkness, the broad deck was awash; below, the lavatory facilities consisted of a large, odoriferous space with dozens of round openings in the floor over which to gingerly squat. By the first light of dawn we were eager for solid ground until the swaying tub approached within a few miles of shore. The fecal stench of Korea, where human excrement fertilized the soil, overwhelmingly more fetid than the fumes arising from the ferry's benjo, billowed out to greet us and left us speechless. We hoped it would be a short war.

It wasn't. The three years of conflict cost more than two million lives, yet the line of battle remained largely where the war began, astride the 38th parallel, above which the Russians effected the Japanese surrender in 1945, below it the Americans.

The line had quickly hardened into a Cold War political frontier. A puppet Stalinist regime with officials trained in Moscow or in the Red Army in Siberia set itself up for business in Pyongyang, which became the North Korean capital. Its experienced People's Army would emerge from the tens of thousands of Koreans who fought with Mao Zedong's troops and chased the less than enthusiastic followers of Chiang Kaishek from the Chinese mainland in 1948. South of the parallel, where the American occupation established the self-exiled old nationalist Syngman Rhee in Seoul as president, the Americans and the Koreans outdid each other in incompetence. Washington, however, paid little attention. A finger-like Asian appendage, Korea seemed an insignificant backwater.

Thirty-five thousand American dead in Korea in three years and fifty-eight thousand American dead in Vietnam over twelve years only suggest what followed. Aside from many thousands more wounded in Korea, thousands more were missing in action than in Vietnam. Although the fewer MIAs from the Vietnam War became a political football, the six thousand American missing in Korea remain forgotten. In the American mind the only connection the two wars now have is the abiding embarrassment that neither one was won. Yet Korea at worst was a draw, a limited war that reached its minimal objectives, whereas Vietnam was a defeat without precedent. The leading world power was humbled by a peasant people thought of as barely civilized wards of the colonialist French. Both wars, nevertheless, were fought to the accompaniment of a quavering trumpet. The sense of a compelling mission was difficult to maintain. Yet in Korea a line was being drawn against Communist expansion; in Vietnam that was a controversial premise. Events would demonstrate that those doubts had substance.

MacArthur's War comes to an end when MacArthur's overwhelming presence vanishes. The war did not end with his exit, although the stalemate he predicted came about. He had warned, and would continue to warn, that there was no substitute for victory, but that truism related to a bygone world in which there were no weapons of mutual destruction.

I deal with the war here in some deliberately simplified ways. All the apostrophes in Anglicized Korean place names and proper names are omitted as of no narrative value. Proper names are offered Asian fashion, surname first, unless the Western style is so familiar (as with Rhee) as to make proper usage appear awkward. Endnote numbers are eschewed as intrusive, as are most footnotes. Extensive backmatter notes, however, cite significant sources. Some of my sources are living participants. They are identified when they permitted me to do so, in both acknowledgments and notes, and I am grateful to them. Soon, such memories, like my own, will vanish unless committed to print or to tape.

Living and dead, veterans of this not-quite-forgotten war are now remembered in a moving memorial on the Mall in Washington in which the nineteen soldier figures are outfitted and equipped better than they ever were in reality. On visits to the memorial, those who were in Korea in 1950-53 often gaze with chagrin at bronze GIs wearing ponchos used then mostly to shroud the dead and bearing walkie-talkie field radios, which most never saw. Yet, somehow, the space evokes their sacrifice; and the names of the nations inscribed around its periphery recall that it was the first international effort to roll back aggression. The nearly forgotten war deserves not to be forgotten. Its first eleven months -- MacArthur's War -- are remembered here.

S.W.

Copyright © 2000 by Stanley Weintraub

Table of Contents

Preface
1 The Second Coming
2 Before the Deluge
3 Day One
4 The Telecon War
5 Bataan II
6 "Stand or Die"
7 Operation Chromite
8 Inchon
9 Crossing the Parallel
10 Mohammed and the Mountain
11 To the Yalu
12 A Turkey for Thanksgiving
13 The Nuclear Option
14 Korea for Christmas
15 Ridgway's War
16 Courting Dismissal
17 Going Home
Afterword
Sources
Acknowledgments
Index

What People are Saying About This

Douglas Brinkley

A fascinating, well-rendered history of the General who refuses to fade away.
— Douglas Brinkley, director of the Eisenhower Center and professor of History at the University of New Orleans

D. Clayton James

One of the most vivid and penetrating critiques of The Great One that has been penned.
—D. Clayton James, author of The Years of MacArthur

Preface

Preface

This was "my" war. While I have written about other wars, for me Korea is different. I was there.

Blotched with rust and sagging in the water, the weary old ferryboat Kango Maru did not look like a seagoing troopship, but it was my ticket to the war. At Sasebo, a naval base in southern Kyushu which we had taken over from the Japanese in 1945, troop trains from Yokohama disgorged us near the docks for the voyage to Pusan and then to replacement depots in the no longer peaceful "Land of the Morning Calm." The water was rough, and in the darkness, the broad deck was awash; below, the lavatory facilities consisted of a large, odoriferous space with dozens of round openings in the floor over which to gingerly squat. By the first light of dawn we were eager for solid ground until the swaying tub approached within a few miles of shore. The fecal stench of Korea, where human excrement fertilized the soil, overwhelmingly more fetid than the fumes arising from the ferry's benjo, billowed out to greet us and left us speechless. We hoped it would be a short war.

It wasn't. The three years of conflict cost more than two million lives, yet the line of battle remained largely where the war began, astride the 38th parallel, above which the Russians effected the Japanese surrender in 1945, below it the Americans.

The line had quickly hardened into a Cold War political frontier. A puppet Stalinist regime with officials trained in Moscow or in the Red Army in Siberia set itself up for business in Pyongyang, which became the North Korean capital. Its experienced People's Army would emerge from the tens of thousands of Koreans who foughtwith Mao Zedong's troops and chased the less than enthusiastic followers of Chiang Kaishek from the Chinese mainland in 1948. South of the parallel, where the American occupation established the self-exiled old nationalist Syngman Rhee in Seoul as president, the Americans and the Koreans outdid each other in incompetence. Washington, however, paid little attention. A finger-like Asian appendage, Korea seemed an insignificant backwater.

Thirty-five thousand American dead in Korea in three years and fifty-eight thousand American dead in Vietnam over twelve years only suggest what followed. Aside from many thousands more wounded in Korea, thousands more were missing in action than in Vietnam. Although the fewer MIAs from the Vietnam War became a political football, the six thousand American missing in Korea remain forgotten. In the American mind the only connection the two wars now have is the abiding embarrassment that neither one was won. Yet Korea at worst was a draw, a limited war that reached its minimal objectives, whereas Vietnam was a defeat without precedent. The leading world power was humbled by a peasant people thought of as barely civilized wards of the colonialist French. Both wars, nevertheless, were fought to the accompaniment of a quavering trumpet. The sense of a compelling mission was difficult to maintain. Yet in Korea a line was being drawn against Communist expansion; in Vietnam that was a controversial premise. Events would demonstrate that those doubts had substance.

MacArthur's War comes to an end when MacArthur's overwhelming presence vanishes. The war did not end with his exit, although the stalemate he predicted came about. He had warned, and would continue to warn, that there was no substitute for victory, but that truism related to a bygone world in which there were no weapons of mutual destruction.

I deal with the war here in some deliberately simplified ways. All the apostrophes in Anglicized Korean place names and proper names are omitted as of no narrative value. Proper names are offered Asian fashion, surname first, unless the Western style is so familiar (as with Rhee) as to make proper usage appear awkward. Endnote numbers are eschewed as intrusive, as are most footnotes. Extensive backmatter notes, however, cite significant sources. Some of my sources are living participants. They are identified when they permitted me to do so, in both acknowledgments and notes, and I am grateful to them. Soon, such memories, like my own, will vanish unless committed to print or to tape.

Living and dead, veterans of this not-quite-forgotten war are now remembered in a moving memorial on the Mall in Washington in which the nineteen soldier figures are outfitted and equipped better than they ever were in reality. On visits to the memorial, those who were in Korea in 1950-53 often gaze with chagrin at bronze GIs wearing ponchos used then mostly to shroud the dead and bearing walkie-talkie field radios, which most never saw. Yet, somehow, the space evokes their sacrifice; and the names of the nations inscribed around its periphery recall that it was the first international effort to roll back aggression. The nearly forgotten war deserves not to be forgotten. Its first eleven months -- MacArthur's War -- are remembered here.

S.W.

Copyright © 2000 by Stanley Weintraub

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MacArthur's War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
mramos on LibraryThing 7 months ago
There is no question that Douglas MacArthur had a long and distinguished career. And that he showed great Barvery in World War I. That he planned some great island hopping strategy during World War II. And did much to help Japan reform and rebuild. But Korea is not an area where his career shines. When conflict broke out in Korea in 1950, MacArthur assumed command of American, South Korean and U.N. forces and drove back the North Korean army to the Yalu river, which is the border between Korea and China. And at center stage was his very risky yet stunning achievement, his amphibious attack behind enemy lines at Inchon. But his total lack of failure to anticipate Chinese entry into the war and his delusion that Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Chinese forces in Formosa could be brought into the war to fight the Communists as a viable force had him lose all credability.Only by General Matthew Ridgway taking command of the Allied ground forces were the Allies able to reverse the trend. General Ridgway took the demoralized Allied troops and transformed them back into a strong fighting force. Which under his command was able to recapture some of the lands lost to the Communist. During this time MacArthur actual came up with a plan to sow a defensive field of radioactive waste on the southern bank of the Yalu. This plan helped Truman to make the to make the decission to dismiss MacArthur at the begining of April 1951.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's obvious from the outset that Mr. Weintraub carries a bitter resentment against McArthur. This is NOT an objective work as another reviewer may have suggested. It's main purpose is to discredit McArthur in any way it can, with very rare exceptions. If you're a McArthur hater, you will enjoy this book. If you admire the general, you will want to take this book to the nearest rifle range and render it unreadable with about 150 rounds of .223 or reasonable facsimile. That being said, there is some valuable historical information contained between the covers for anyone wishing to know more about the 'forgotten' war. Just try not to form an opinion of General McArthur's role in Korea based on what you read in this work.