[June 10, 2015] Most of my readers know that I’m partial to the study of the Korean War. There are so many precedents to how we fight today. True, the Korean War was fought on mountainous terrain and in many battles the extreme cold created great suffering. In Iraq, the terrain and weather could hardly be more different. Where the parallels exist is in the politics of the war and in the way an underestimated enemy was able to rout defeat American troops through their “fanaticism”. Today, I’m summarizing David Halberstam’s book “The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War” and published after his death. Just in itself the politics that he writes about makes for worthwhile reading. We can also all gain serious insight into how America evolved in the years after World War II. Good reading!
The Coldest Winter, David Halberstam, 2009.
Halberstam has provided us with a valuable look at the Korea War covering the major battles of the winter in 1950-51. However, what I find most useful is the information he gives us on the national leaders and the effect of politics on major decisions made during the war; by Stalin, Truman, Mao, Kim (N.Korea), and Rhee (S.Korea), as well as MacArthur and assorted generals. The author also lays out the deficiencies in MacArthur’s generalship during that war and despite being a popular American war hero, was relieved of duty by President Truman. We also learn much more about MacArthur (more than I has suspected) and how his father and mother were great influences on him in both a positive and negative way. My favorite part of the book is the insights I gained on how China became the nation it is today and he provides a good look at its culture. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it for those interested in senior leadership.
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