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The Korean War [Paperback]

Sir Max Hastings
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Nov 1988
Max Hastings' study draws on first hand accounts of those who fought on both sides to produce this reassessment of the Korean War.

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 (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,297,857 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account of this forgotten war 2 July 2011
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and written 8 Nov 2008
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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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The book is an excellent account of a war the West has forgotten about.The battle accounts are well written and use many eyewitnesses,but it's real strengh is in the way it tries to examine the reasons for the war and the lessons we didn't learn without trying to make political points scoring,the writer recognises the essential rightness of the UN cause while not flinching from the faults of the South Korean regime.There is a sense of tragedy about the way it is shown that so many of the American policies were dress rehearsals for the Vietnam war,and a sense of outrage at the poor leadership and performance of many aspects of the UN intervention in the first year of the war.Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating and detailed 6 Jun 2012
By john
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
interesting to read about a war and era of history I knew very little about. Well written and worth a look
Published 20 days ago by J. Moulding
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good book
Published 20 days ago by k lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 25 days ago by Markham
4.0 out of 5 stars Full account but, naturally, not much from the communist side
A very full account covering all major aspects of the war, starting with an area I didn't expect of how the Americans rushed an unsuitable Synman Rhee into being President, which... Read more
Published 1 month ago by TimmiAndi
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening account of the war and the politics of it
I chose this book because I had been in the latter part of the war. I found it to be a rich account of the war by such an aminent historian. Read more
Published 1 month ago by tallhall
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped me to understand
Because my father had been in the Gloucester Regiment there were bits of memorabilia about the house, but he never spoke much about his time there. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Caroline
4.0 out of 5 stars Very accessible account of the scacrecly known war
Max Hastings makes it clear why the book tends to be a one-side account - a lack of any or any reliable information from North Korean sources. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A must read for anyone interested in the Korean War, written with his usual objectivity, and his analysis of the war and its effects are as true today as in '86 when he wrote it
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Michael F. Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting histoty
As with all of Max Hastings's books some of the facts are wrong. He's very short of being the expert he puts himself forward as. Read more
Published 3 months ago by GDD
3.0 out of 5 stars Max Hastings the Korean War
My husband read this and say he found it shockingly revealing, informative but repetitive. A forgotten war indeed except for those still with us who participated.
Published 4 months ago by Evelyne Swaine
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