My knowledge of the Korean War has always been very limited, and like many people, mine has been slanted by the 1970s TV series MASH.
In this book, Hastings gives us a detailed yet very readable account of the origins of the war, it early prosecution and the need for the US to gain support from others to give itself the fig leaf of pretence that this was a UN operation and not the first instance of the Cold War being fought by the super powers' proxies. Considerable use is made of first hand accounts as well as archive material. It must, given the fact that it was written in 1985, be slanted towards the western experience of the war, and doubtless if written now would have the benefit of some restricted access to the Chinese record, though even now one must suspect that a truly impartial account must be difficult to produce.
A criticism has been made that the British contribution plays too large a part of the narrative. Given that the author is British, this is what the buyer should anticipate. The fact that Hastings is not afraid to criticise American prosecution of the war, together with accounts of American blunders will no doubt upset American readers, who may prefer a more partisan account. A sub text that questions why the Americans chose to support the distasteful regime in the South of a country with no strategic interest, other than in pursuit of the Truman doctrine, may also be distasteful to some, but is worthy of discussion.
A well written and clear account, typical of Hastings' output. Thoroughly recommended to the general reader.