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The Coldest Winter: American and the Korean War Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books; Abridged edition (Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401384854
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401384852
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 4.1 x 14.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,645,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

fine book...delicately balances wide-angle pictures with carefully drawn details. The fascination, however, comes not only from the way in which Korea's conflict played out, but also from the nature of the primary issues: in Korea two superpowers found themselves embroiled in a debacle that lasted longer than anybody imagined.'
--Daily Telegraph --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Up until now, the Korean War has been the black hole of modern American history. The Coldest Winter changes that, giving readers a masterful narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides. He charts the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu, and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides astonishingly vivid and nuanced portraits of all the major figures -- Eisenhower, Truman, Acheson, Kim, and Mao, and Generals MacArthur, Almond, and Ridgway. At the heart of the book are the individual stories of the soldiers on the front lines who were left to deal with the consequences of the dangerous misjudgments and competing agendas of powerful men. We meet them, follow them, and see some of the most dreadful battles in history through their eyes. As ever, Halberstam was concerned with the extraordinary courage and resolve of people asked to bear an extraordinary burden. Contemporary history in its most literary and luminescent form, The Coldest Winter provides crucial perspective on the Vietnam War and the events of today. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
The necessity for this book is exemplified by the author's experience in a provincial Florida library: when looking at the shelves found it had eighty eight books on the Vietnam War, and only four on Korea.

This is a magisterial single volume history of the American involvement in a major war with Communist China. David Halberstam draws on considerable historical and journalistic skills to follow in the footsteps of Chester Wilmot's Crusade in Europe: the same effortless movement between platoon level experience of single combat to the liaisons and conferences of the chiefs of staff. I was as engaged by the character sketches of key politicians and diplomats as I was by the gripping depiction of close quarter conflict with the Chinese army. The portrait of MacArthur is worthy of Greek tragedy.

This was a highly politicised conflict exposed fault line between soldiers and civilians in the American way of making war. It explores the tension between the American instinct to isolationism and its global responsibilities - and provides sharp contrasts between the outstanding success of the USA in stabilising and securing democracy in post-war Europe with a far more problematic experience in Asia

Some qualifications: if you are a British reader, and your previous reading on the war is centred on Max Hastings and Michael Hickey, then you are likely to be disappointed by the very peripheral treatment of the UN effort outside the US armed forces. I think this is to be expected, but it is a little sad. My major criticism is the very poor index which does very little service to an excellently scholarly and readable book.

The key axis of power in the 21st century is likely to be between the USA and China, and the events of 1950-1953 will remain central to the dynamic of this relationship. This book is a fine tribute to its author who was so tragically killed in a car accident just as it was completed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By taiaha on 9 April 2013
Format: Paperback
I acquired this book in the hope of expanding my knowledge of the Korean military campaign, but was sorely disappointed. The narrative starts off well enough, with a well constructed relation of the first Chinese border crossing and the ensuing battle of Unsan, interspersed with nicely edited anecdotes from veterans of the action. Then it starts to fall apart...

Virtually half the book is a diatribe against MacArthur and his personal failings and shortcomings as a military leader, coupled with long passages chronicling the political intrigue in Washington. I have no particular problem with this being an integral part of the history, but the author is interminably repetitive in describing the machinations of these situations. The book could probably have been edited to half its length, and would have been twice as good...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good read and great way to learn about this brutal and significant war between 1950-1953.
Recommended for readers interested in forgotten conflicts
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16 of 25 people found the following review helpful By S Wood on 4 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
I have a bad or good habit, judge as you will, of pretty much always finishing a book once I've started it. This was tested sorely to the limits with David Halberstams "The Coldest Winter" which I had borrowed from my local Library in the hope of filling in the ample gaps in my knowledge of the Korean War. Instead, within a few score pages, it became apparent that the book had immense and ultimately fatal problems. The fact that there are 650+ pages meant that my reading endurance was tested to its limits.

The amount of clichés is simply astounding as well as a blizzard of trite sound bites, sentimentalism and more than a few dubious judgements. Sentences such as "he passed all kinds of secret tests, and he [Kim Il Sung] was a true believer" appear continuously in the text: the stuff of caricature and they occur with regard to everyone who makes an appearance, from the lowliest soldier to such historical figures as General MacArthur, Harry Truman, Mao and General Ridgeway.

The book is subtitled "America and the Korean War" and I expected that the American contribution to the Korean War would have primacy. What I cannot accept is the utterly miserable amount of space that is given to the Koreans. With the exception of the two leading figures of North and South there is only the odd sentence or paragraph on the Korean people themselves. The reader is left, beyond a few shallow generalities, with little idea of what their experience of the War was. There is not even much in the way of detail regarding how partition happened, or the status of the two Koreas in the period between the end of WW2 and the beginning of the Korean War.
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