This powerful narrative by the author of The Marines of Autum is an endearing piece of warrior's nostalgia, written with his accustomed skill by a seasoned writer. Returning to Korea, Brady revisits some of the places where he fought as a Marine platoon commander. In the opening, Brady finds his old battlefield of Hill 749 within sight of North Korean emplacements, although well-defended by a South Korean army vastly improved from what he remembers from 50-plus years ago. The rest of the narrative shifts back and forth, beginning with the author's nerve-wracking stroke to his going to Korea to write the Parade article on which this book is based. As Brady rides through Seoul with skyscrapers on every side, he remembers seeing it in 1951, when there wasn't a building taller than two stories left standing. Fellow Marines, from "the Skipper" (the company commander, the late Rhode Island governor and senator John Chaffee) on down, appear in their old age, and in their youth when they faced the Chinese with everything from artillery to bayonets. Brady, who expresses grave reservations about the Iraq War, sometimes moves from topic to topic fast enough to lose readers, but this book marks a highly admirable addition to his distinguished body of work. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Parade magazine columnist Brady (The Marines of Autumn) was a marine officer in the Korean War. In 2003, he returned to the scene of his combat experiences, now the Demilitarized Zone, and here uses the occasion to ruminate on the companions of his youth, all of whom seem to have been brilliant, destined to be famous, or tragically doomed. He also has a considerable amount to say about growing old, the pain of loss and the joy of achievement, and the changes that combat brings about in young men. Not unaware of the parallels with America's latest war, he contrasts the 37,000 American dead in his war with the thousand dead in Iraq at the time of writing. Despite the title, the book has little to say about North Korea and is more an act of looking back. Filled with a moderate degree of insight, careful disclosures about old comrades, and a healthy amount of self-deprecation, this successful journalistic memoir, sure to be widely promoted, is a very good candidate for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.]-Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
An affecting memoir, by novelist/journalist Brady (The Marine, 2003, etc.), of service in what is still a strangely forgotten war. The Korean War followed WWII, and it had no shortage of men willing to fight it; as Brady writes, "some of us went almost eagerly and with a certain dash, having missed the 'Big War' and feeling left out." The young men who did officer training together at Quantico, Va., were a mixed bunch straight out of a WWII movie, but many had elevated pedigrees: there was Punch Sulzberger, for instance, who became publisher of the New York Times, along with future university provost Pete Soderbergh, whose son would become a movie director, and Washington Redskins quarterback Eddie LeBaron, and televangelist-in-the-making Pat Robertson. (Robertson's father was a U.S. senator, "with sufficient political muscle that his son hinted that the brass would sort of look after him, which stirred resentment among fellow officers and led to tribulations of near biblical proportions for young Lieutenant Robertson.") Off they went to war, and, fighting in the cold mountains of the two Koreas, many of them died, "raw meat on the end of a stick." That, of course, is what Marines do, and Brady cautions that you won't find many pacifists among their kind, though he has become a careful student of war and voices plain criticisms of the wars that have followed his. The present Brady, who is now in his late 70s, meets the younger one on a mission that must have been daunting: a journalistic assignment to revisit the places where he fought and where many of his friends died. His evocation of their lives and his lost youth is most moving, and so, too, are his notes on the passing of formercomrades who lived through the war: "The Quantico class of '51 wasn't doing so well," Brady mourns. "Life was closing in on us. Death was." Graceful, even elegant, and always eloquent tribute to men at arms in a war that, in a way, never ended.
"James Brady has done it again. A riveting and illuminating insight into a dark corner of the world."
Tim Russert, NBC's Meet the Press
"His evocation of their lives and his lost youth is most moving, and so, too, are his notes on the passing of former comrades... Graceful, even elegant, and always eloquent tribute to men at arms in a war that, in a way, never ended."