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The Korean War Paperback – 4 Nov 1988

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (4 Nov. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330302655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330302654
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 457,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Stephen E. Ambroseauthor of "Eisenhower: The President" and "Nixon: The Education of a Politician"Rings true and will surely stand the test of time....Max Hastings has no peer as a writer of battlefield history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

`A brilliant and compelling book which must rank, even by the standards Max Hastings has set, as a masterpiece' Professor Michael Howard, London Review of Books On 25 June 1950, the invasion of South Korea by the Communist North launched one of the bloodiest and most devastating conflicts of our battle-scarred century. The seemingly limitless power of the Chinese-backed North was thrown against the ferocious firepower of teh UN-backed South in a war that can be seen today as the stark prelude to Vietnam. Max Hastings, the acclaimed author of Overlord and Bomber Command, has drawn on first-hand accounts of those who fought on both sides to produce this vivid and incisive reassessment of the Korean War, bringing the military and human dimensions of the conflict into sharp focus. `Excellent, readable history by a master of the genre' Daily Mail `The description of the stand of the Gloucesters on the Imjin is exemplary. Hastings has spared no pains to dig deep in search of the real truth, and to seek out and interview those who took part in the events he chronicles with such finely balanced judgement' Field Marshall Lord Carver, Times Literary Supplement --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Seldom in the course of history has a nation been so rapidly propelled from obscurity to a central place in the world's affairs as Korea. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By john on 6 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The korean war is known as the forgotten war for a good reason. i wanted to learn about it and saw this as the best starting point. Max Hastings does an amazing job in covering the whole war from the first arrival of american troops after the surrender of Japan to the final ceasefire agreement in 1953. if your looking for an overview of the conflict then this is it. its covers in wonderful detail the the political and military side of it filled with veteran interviews of both UN and chinese forces. by far what makes its so great is the way the author is able to summarize and conclude so many parts in it that give you a great idea of the events. my own criticism is that its a very top down view of the war with little idea of what it was really like for the soldiers. while that is in a way good because it then focuses on the big events of the war which for someone who nothing of it is good yet there is little personal looks into what the soldiers experienced although there are many veteran accounts of their experience and battles. it includes a lot of great photos of the war and many haunting stories of many individuals who as the book says "were never heard from again". with the situation today in Korea remaining much the same as it was when the cease fire was signed this is definitely a book to buy as it still today remains a current event and if the current situation is to be ever understood you have to start with this war and this book will give you a great start on a war that was very harsh with often heavy fighting yet is completely nude shadowed by the simple fact that it left many americans unsatisfied after the war as it was there first war in which they did not attain full victory but had to settle for a stalemate and ceasefire. fascinating from beginning to end.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Simon Welch on 2 July 2011
Format: Paperback
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Loughins on 8 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, a good historical non-fiction is one that doesn't read like one. In other words, the historian doesn't bore you with pointless details and fancy words, which you need to consult a dictionary to understand. This is one such book. Hastings provides an excellent chronological description of the Korean war without concentrating on one particular aspect for too long, with the exception of degrading MacArthur. But then this is wholly justified because I personally think the guy was an idiot. People talk about his heroic deeds in the second world war and then at Incheon but the reality is: he left his men to rot and die on the Philippines; he simply used brute force in his reconquest of the Pacific without using any fantastic new tactics or strategies; and Incheon could have been a major disaster if the North Korean army had been larger and better equipped. He got lucky however and people now call it a masterstroke.

Anyway, enough about MacArthur. Another good aspect about the book is that it doesn't concentrate on one particular issue. It deals with everything including the military tactics employed during the war, the experiences of both soldiers and civilians, and the political reaction from governments and civilians across the world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback
Just five years after the end of the Second World War, the Korean War was the first of a set of ideological wars between the capitalist United States and her allies and communist states, which threatened to make the cold war with the Soviet Union a hot one. In The Korean War, Max Hastings sets out the historical context and lead-up to the war, its initial unfolding and the deployment of a United Nations forces, and its bloody progression up to the armistice in 1953. The book covers the wider general arc of the war, its ideology and politics, military actions, and the principle actors and their acts, but also has a series of smaller stories about individuals, and chapters about specific aspects of the war, such the air war, intelligence, and prisoners of war. There’s a wealth of information based on an analysis of documentary sources and interviews with over 200 participants. And rather than just describe what happened, he’s prepared to provide analysis and judgement as to cause and effects.

However, whilst the book provides an overarching analysis, it is fair to say it is a decidedly slanted one, and has a number of notable absences. Hastings is a British journalist and historian and the book has a definite British slant in terms of analysis and sources. There is some criticism of the British participation, but largely the British role both militarily and diplomatically is portrayed favourably. On the other hand, the Americans do not fair so well, in part because they did make a hames of many situations, but it seems that more than that is going on. For example, the British disaster at Imjin is depicted as a heroic last stand and plucky retreat, whereas the very similar American defeat at Chosin is framed as a deadly calamity.
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