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Scorched Earth, Black Snow: The First Year of the Korean War [Hardcover]

Andrew Salmon
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jun 2011

The first year of the Korean War was a tumultuous series of epic battles, ending in a legendary and harrowing retreat.

In the summer of 1950, British and Australian troops were dispatched to fight with UN forces in the savage struggle against communism in Korea.

After both triumph and tragedy while breaking out of the “Pusan Perimeter,” 27th Brigade – the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Middlesex battalions, soon joined by the Royal Australians – spearheaded the UN drive north. After a spectacular series of battles, victory beckoned. 27th Brigade was halted to allow the Americans the glory of reaching the Chinese border.

But across the rugged border, in a shock counter-offensive, China stormed south. In a desperate action, 27th Brigade fought its way out of the trap, to join the UN Command on a harrowing, 200-mile ‘bug out.” And across the peninsula, surrounded by eight enemy divisions in terrain higher than Cassino and temperatures colder than Stalingrad, 41 Commando fought alongside US Marines at Chosin Reservoir – ‘Hellfire Valley’, the most nightmarish battle fought by American or British troops in living memory - and escaped annihilation by a hair’s breadth.

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Scorched Earth, Black Snow: The First Year of the Korean War + To The Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951 + The Korean War (Pan Military Classics)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (1 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845136195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845136192
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘Gripping…The men who fought with the UN force deserve to be remembered better than they currently are. Salmon’s moving, fascinating book at last does them justice.’

(Mail on Sunday)

‘Casts fresh light on Britain’s role in one of the 20th century’s bloodiest yet least remembered conflicts.’

(The Times)

‘The author is rapidly earning himself a reputation as a key chronicler of the years of the Korean war: this latest title is incisive, compelling and neatly crafted, and will enhance that reputation further.’

(South China Morning Post)

‘One of the book’s main assets is the many eyewitness accounts which enliven the exciting narrative. Thanks to Andrew Salmon, this forgotten war will now always be remembered.’

(Britain at War)

‘Among the best works of non-fiction I have ever read. An absolute page-turner. Like a top work of thriller fiction, but it is for real.’

( (Army website))

‘The story is full to the brim, rich in tales of courage and of horror…a powerful story, distinctive in style, which pulls no punches…a military history that is fascinating, shocking and thought provoking in equal measure.’


A compelling tale that explains the camaraderie of small units in war, but doesn't shy away from the visceral if sometimes exhilarating experience of high-intensity conflict, the brutalising effect on those waging it and the consequences for the Korean population. This admirable book does justic to its subjects who deserve to be better remembered.

(BBC History Magazine)

About the Author

Journalist Andrew Salmon covers the Koreas for Forbes, The South China Morning Post, The Times and The Washington Times. Educated at Elizabeth College Guernsey, the University of Kent and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, he is the author of business history American Business and the Korean Miracle and two books about the Korean War. The first, To the Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea, 1951, was the unanimous winner of the Hampshire Libraries/Osprey Publishing ‘Best Military Book of 2009’ award. In 2010, he was honoured at Seoul’s National Assembly with a ‘Korean Wave’ award for his contribution to the literature of the Korean War. He lives in Seoul with wife Ji-young and daughter Hannah.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History in the Raw 18 Aug 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a National Serviceman, I served 13 of my 24 months service on active service in Korea with the 1st Kings Regiment 1952/53. Now at last, we can read of the hardships endured by OUR TROOPS in that long forgotten war, hardships not only in battle, but fighting the arctic climate at the same time, -38 degrees not uncommon during the winter months.
Andrew Salmon has done what no other writer has done over the last 60 years, brought home to the British public the price that the youth of that time paid in defending freedom, in a most savage war. In three years of war almost 4,000,000 people lost their lives, including 1,200 young men from the U.K. While one young life lost is one to many, the figures from Korea do tend to put todays wars in some sort of perspective. This book does that and more, this book tells the Soldiers story,the horror of that first winter 1950/51 is told for the first time, some readers may be surprised to learn that so called "friendly fire" is not a new experience. But most of all this is a book that should be read by all who have any interest in History.
As a veteran of Korea I can only say two words to Andrew Salmon, "THANK YOU"
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Andrew Salmon's "Scorched Earth Black Snow" should be read by every young Army and Marine Corps officer and NCO. It is a history, a tactical reader, and a collection of veterans' reminiscences. It is also a warning as to what can happen when military forces are unprepared.

Korea is often called the `forgotten' war, and there was good reason for many to forget it. The victorious U.S. military machine of five years previously had been dismantled. The American public paid little attention to the state of its Armed Forces. There was still a draft, as Japan and Germany were still under military occupation, and the Cold War was underway. Yet the United States deemed Korea outside its sphere of interest. Indeed, just prior to Mao Zhe-dong's victory, the U.S. had withdrawn the last of its combat troops from Korea, leaving only a small military advisory effort. So when the most modern indigenous army in East Asia streamed across the 38th Parallel, the reaction was surprise and anger. U.S. forces were rushed to the Peninsula where the public expected they would make short work of the North Koreans. That they did not. Indeed, they were driven back, fleeing for their lives, and greater disasters were yet to come. There were a lot of events during the covered by Salmon's book that many American veterans would prefer to forget.

Scorched Earth starts with one of the best moments, as a victorious U.N. Army is driving north, and the enemy is fleeing as fast as he can, but not quite as fast as enveloping U.N. forces. The 27th Commonwealth Brigade has pushed up past Sariwon, the last major town before Pyongyang. Ordered to pull back south, the British, Scot, and Australian battalions run into a North Korean regiment traveling north.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scorched Earth and Black Snow 29 Aug 2011
This is a powerful, exciting and absorbing book. It does not pretend to be a Regimentals History giving details of formations and unit moves but it is a most readable book covering previously unrecognised episodes involving Commonwealth Troops and Royal Marines in the early and desperate stages of the Korean War.
Following the outstanding success of his previous book on the Korean War "To the Last Round," this book successfully blends Andrew Salmon's intimate knowledge of Korea, his genuinely sympathetic feeling for those who fought and died and his skill as a journalist into a book which can be strongly recommended to all those who wish to know what happened in Korea in 1950-51.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book of 2011 21 Aug 2011
The author's last book To The Last Round,about the Imjim River battle was fantastic and this one is even better .I found it really terriflying to read as the British ,Australians and Americans fight off hordes of Chinese bearing down on them The Chosin must rank as just as bad to fight in as Stalingrad was for the Germans. Only the discipline and sheer guts of 41 Commando and 1st US Marines got them through the trap the Chinese had laid for them An epic story, sadly almost forgotten. This book deserves to be a classic alongside those of Beevor and Hastings
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I have just finished reading the last page to this wonderful book, one of those books that you are glad to have picked up and started. This book covers the first year of the Korean War and the role of the British and Australians who made up the 27th Infantry Brigade - 1st Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 1st Middlesex and the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. Besides riveting accounts from these men we also read about the activities of the Royal Marine 41 Commando, operating behind North Korean lines and attached with the USMC at the Chosin Reservoir.

This book offers numerous first-hand accounts of the men who fought during this terrible war, still regarded by many as `the forgotten war'. I have read some of the accounts previously but there are many new stories here along with some amazing black & white photographs. The accounts are graphic in nature, like this account during the UN drive to Seoul after the Inchon landings:

"Some men hitched rides from Kimpo into the part-ruined capital. The dead had not been cleared. `The North Koreans had shot all the public servants, and then the South Koreans had shot another bunch, there were people lined up and shot everywhere,' said Sergeant Reg Bandy. `It was pretty stenchy'."

Or these accounts following the battle for the `Orchard' when 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, were sent in to link up with American paratroopers from the 187th Airborne:

"Distant paratroopers could now see Australians closing. An airborne officer watched with astonishment the butchery inflicted by a single, fearsome Digger, `Bluey' - so called because of his red hair - Smith. A giant of a man, Smith `loved the army, and he had guts,' Bandy reckoned. Smith lunged into a North Korean trench, bayonet fixed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
A wonderful account of a war so many have forgotten and one in which British troops fought so valiantly alongside our Australian brethren.
Published 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Don-Hawkwind
Great worth 10 stars really. This is a war which took place in my lifetime and we know so little about it. Read more
Published 5 months ago by don hawkwind
5.0 out of 5 stars Scorched Earth Black Snow
Fascinating insight into a war that is seemingly forgotten. Having served with the Colours I cannot recall any mention of Korea. I read this after reading To The Last Round. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bob Sullivan
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of action
A great book with lots of action, which is well described.
The fighting is full on and very grim. Read more
Published 7 months ago by David Cotton
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, brought back many memories, pity it did not cover the...
I suppose people are more interested in 29 Brigade not our scratch Brigade, even if we were far better led
Published 7 months ago by samofarian
5.0 out of 5 stars NEIL kirkland
Brilliant book. As an in-site to what close combat in terrible conditions feels like this brings it right home. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Neil Kirkland
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A really exciting and informative book about the incredible feats achieved by 27th brigade in the first half of the Korean War which has never been written like this before. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mrs Diana Maclean
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced
I've not read many books on the conflict in Korea, found this a good place to start. Well written ,it follows several combatants first hand accounts as well as giving a overall... Read more
Published 9 months ago by jonathan bartrop
5.0 out of 5 stars Militaryman
A well written and very interesting book. I struggled to put this book down - it was that good and I'll be looking for more books from Andrew Salmon.
Published 10 months ago by Andries Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Scorched earth black snow
An enjoyable account of the early war in Korea worth a read if interested in history of the British armed forces
Published 10 months ago by DAVID FALCONER
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