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Suggested reads for Korean War

Discussion in 'Quill and Ink' started by JJWilson, May 29, 2018.

  1. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Hello Everyone, with some of the talk lately revolving around the conflict in Korea, it's peaked my interest once again. I've never had more than a basic knowledge of the war even though I've been fascinated and interested in the subject since I learned of it as a child. I'm looking for books that give the outline of the war, a general history really. The last two years I've been focusing more on Vietnam, and I've learned quite a bit, but now I want to shift gears and learn more about Korea. Thank you for any suggestions you may have.
    -Wilson
     
  2. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    Korean War by Stephen Badsey. It's a tall thin book, and it's good for a general overview.

    Also, Armor in Korea- A Pictorial History by Jim Mesko. It's one of the terrific Squadron/Signal books for reference for modelers and shows not only American tanks, but the British Cromwell, and has a good history overall for the war, from it's first dynamic year, to the trench warfare in the rest of the shooting war.

    There's also Marine Corps Tank Battles in Korea, by Oscar Gilbert. These last two were great background for me in the writing of my novel, Jarhead Tanker.
     
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  3. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History - Fiftieth Anniversary Edition by T.R. Fehrenbach is a good read and oft quoted by other histories. Fehrenbach fought in Korea as a US Army officer at the platoon, company, and battalion levels.

    "Updated with maps, photographs, and battlefield diagrams, this special fiftieth anniversary edition of the classic history of the Korean War is a dramatic and hard-hitting account of the conflict written from the perspective of those who fought it. Partly drawn from official records, operations journals, and histories, it is based largely on the compelling personal narratives of the small-unit commanders and their troops. Unlike any other work on the Korean War, it provides both a clear panoramic overview and a sharply drawn "you were there" account of American troops in fierce combat against the North Korean and Chinese communist invaders. As Americans and North Koreans continue to face each other across the 38th Parallel, This Kind of War commemorates the past and offers vital lessons for the future."

    You can pick up a "Good" used hardback copy from Amazon for $23. avoid the Kindle edition as I've read there are numerous transcription errors. While you're at it I'd order the following two items:

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    This is because you'll want to dig up MacArthur's silly ass and hang him!


    Forgotten Warriors: The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the Corps Ethos, and the Korean War by T.X. Hammes. It's a good history of the Brigade that was largely responsible for preventing the UN Forces from being run off the peninsula. Better yet it goes into the Truman/Johnson budget cuts that led to the "Revolt of the Admirals" and the US being unable to mount a credible military response to the North Korean invasion. For instance the newly created US Air Force promulgated the strategy that all future wars would be fought by strategic bombers carrying nuclear weapons convinced Johnson to funnel the majority of defense appropriations into acquiring 1,000 of the bombers. They claimed that they flew so high, so far and so fast that escorting fighters were obsolete as were most tactical aircraft (remember this was before the appearance of swept wing Soviet jets in Korea). The Navy proposed an interception test between its new F2H Banshee, the Air Force declined and got Secretary Johnson to forbid the tests. Interestingly, the Air Force was afraid one of its B-36's might be shot down over Korea so they were never committed to the conflict. The budget cuts went deep, when North Korea invaded the south, Truman ordered a Naval blockade, the Navy had to inform him they could not comply due to lack of ships. At one point when the North Korean's had overrun most of the airfields in South Korea, there was only one US carrier to provide air support for UN Forces, the USS Valley Forge. When MacArthur decided he wanted to turn the enemy's flank with an amphibious assault at Inchon, the navy had to lease former US LST's and their crews from the Japanese. Anyway it goes a long way to explain why we as a nation weren't prepared for that war.

    I've got a really good book on the Chinese intervention written with benefit of access to their archives. I'll dig it out so I can give you the title.

    The Korean War: Pusan to Chosin: An Oral History by Donald Knox. A great collection of first person accounts gives a good feel for the war. Unfortunately, the author died before he could complete the second book in the series and it was finished by another author and has a different "feel". That in no way lessens the impact of the story told in the original volume, it's just a shame he didn't get to finish.
     
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  4. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Max Hastings's 'The Korean War' is one of his better books, and a decent general survey.
    Importantly, though Hastings can be a bit patchy as a historian, he writes with exceptionally lucid style - very readable. Which I find important when cracking a new subject. If the thing proves interesting, further reading can always smooth over the doubtful bits.

    Korea deserves more coverage than it gets.
     
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  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I remembered reading an interesting and well written account of Taskforce Smith in Armor Magazine. While searching for it I found these articles which may also be of interest (haven't read them myself yet).
    The Legacy of Task Force Smith – Mike Denny – Medium
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...AD=ADA309900&usg=AOvVaw1gD5XgzMp6dFz7RZ2OUpTo
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...AD=ADA381834&usg=AOvVaw3HGkfIn4JwgY-i6dz8Ewi3
    Task Force Smith

    Then there's the army's Korean war history page:
    Korean War - U.S. Army Center Of Military History
    quite a few resources are hung off of it.
    Then there's an article on tanks in Korea in this issue of Armor Magazine:
    http://www.benning.army.mil/armor/e...000/SEP_OCT/ArmorSeptemberOctober 2000web.pdf

    Unfortunately didn't find the article I was looking for unless one of the above is a reprint.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    First set of books I digitized for the CoMH. I pointed out several errors in the original text and one really bad caption picture caption along the way.
     
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  7. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your suggestions everyone, I have a solid list to work with now.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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  9. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    For a more personal look at one battle, I would suggest Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War by Eric Hammel.
     
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  10. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Read anything by Roy Appleman, Jr. He wrote the first volume of the US Army's official history, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, and then wrote his own non-official works about the war. He's very dry in that official history way, but from what I can tell he is also thorough and accurate. I don't agree with all his judgments (he seems to like Almond, whom I and others detest, and he is also too kind to Keiser) but Escaping the Trap and Disaster in Korea are both valuable for the 1950 campaign. The best of his books, I think, is East of Chosin, a study of the destruction of the 31st RCT (TF Faith). That is a terrible and moving story, and Appleman tells it well.
     
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  11. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    S.L.A. Marshall gets some deserved criticism these days, but The River and the Gauntlet is still a well-written, dramatic, and highly detailed account of the Battle of the Chongchon and the destruction of the 2nd Division at Kunu-Ri.
     
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  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    And a little late to the party, you might try Clay Blair's The Forgotten War - America in Korea 1950-1953. Only 1136 pages, counting the index. And for something more to my liking there's Malcolm Cagle & Frank Manson The Sea War in Korea.

    Lots of other naval related Korean War stuff here, naval related info, action reports, etc. Enough to keep an inquiring mind busy for a long time.
    Search
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
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  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    NHHC is monumental. When I retired I gave them a final 20k pages of material I hadn't submitted yet, mostly on the Antebellum USN. Fighting pirates in Jacksonville was something I hadn't known about.
     

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