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The Korean War: A History (Modern Library Chronicles) [Paperback]

Bruce Cumings
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 July 2011 Modern Library Chronicles

For Americans, it was a discrete conflict lasting from 1950 to 1953. But for the Asian world the Korean War was a generations-long struggle that still haunts contemporary events. With access to new evidence and secret materials from both here and abroad, including an archive of captured North Korean documents, Bruce Cumings reveals the war as it was actually fought. He describes its origin as a civil war, preordained long before the first shots were fired in June 1950 by lingering fury over Japan’s occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. Cumings then shares the neglected history of America’s post–World War II occupation of Korea, reveals untold stories of bloody insurgencies and rebellions, and tells of the United States officially entering the action on the side of the South, exposing as never before the appalling massacres and atrocities committed on all sides.

Elegantly written and blisteringly honest, The Korean War is, like the war it illuminates, brief, devastating, and essential.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (12 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081297896X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812978964
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 209,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and incisive. 17 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
A very good read, but not for those seeking a book about battles and combat. This book is comprised of a wide ranging set of essays on different aspects of the war, it's context, and it's legacy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A counterweight to decades of propaganda 18 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, the U.S. decided it was now in charge of Korea up to an arbitrary boundary at the 38th parallel. In the north, a government formed from rebels who had fought Japanese imperial barbarity. In the south, the U.S. installed a government made up of those who had collaborated with it.
Like it or not, the government of the north was popular amongst ordinary Koreans, which is why so many of them in the south were slaughtered by soldiers and militiamen who were often led by Americans.
Bruce Cumings continues in this vein to debunk many of the enduring myths surrounding the Korean War, invented by the U.S. and its allies at the time and left largely unchallenged since. In fact, the truth is almost the exact obverse of the official narrative. The supposed cruelty of the north is as nothing compared to the massacre and destruction wreaked by the south and its puppet master.
And finally, Cumings does his best to convey to the reader the history and character of Korea, all Korea. Through this book, you are guided to an understanding of where we are now.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and compassionate 22 Dec 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bruce Cummings is a courageous man: holding some uncomfortable truths in a country which is so uneasy about its imperialist policies is nothing short of heroic. Sure, he can expect all sorts of bigots to label him anti-American, communist-lover and other similar stuff. Yet, the book is well argued, with hard facts and that is its main merit. To give an insightful account on the significance of the Korean War on is 50th anniversary. But Cumings does more than this. He also gives a compassionate account of the importance of acknowledging the injury caused to the Korean people by US interference and imperialist policies and to acknowledge the responsibility the US still has in maintaining a fragile and dangerous status quo. This book is not so much about history, as an urgent call to engage, understand and accept that Korea belongs to Koreans and that it is up to them, wheteher South or North, to decide what they want with as little outside interference as possible. It is a call for the US to accept that the DPRK is another country and stop behaving in a colonial way that perpetuates a Cold War situation out of date. It is a call to learn to say sorry and correct past mistakes to pave the way for a brighter future that all of humanity deserves. Surely, those who prefer war mongering and gung ho imperial politics may find it weak, those who believe in peace will appreciate his effort. Well done Mr Cumings.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing 16 Dec 2010
By A Buyer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a truly in depth and definitive guide to US imperialism in the east. An excellent companion to Blowback by Chalmers Johnson.

Although the author is not a marxist, socialist or communist, he openly criticises the imperialist and colonialist foreign policies of the US in such accurate detail they can not be refuted. Cuming's knowledge of the Korean war is profound and sensitive, most importantly to the Korean people. The author demonstrates himself as an anti imperialist and an anti racist- both excellent principles which make this work enlightening.

This book is an excellent read for all those studying Korea, North Korea and this history of Japanese imperialism in the region. The author's detail of the Korean war, although taking up a large part of the book, is not the entirety of the read. Cumings offers lots of other details about the history of the region and its relation to and interference with by US imperialism.

Im surprised there are not more reviews for this book. Not only is it well written, but it is politically excellent and a noteworthy study of Korea. Well done Bruce Cumings.
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