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The Origins of the Korean War, Volume I: Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes, 1945-1947: Liberation and the Emergence of Separate ... v. 1 (Studies of the East Asian Institute) Paperback – Special Edition, 21 Oct 1981

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9482bf78) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9483ca44) out of 5 stars Well done for its time, but out of date 2 Mar. 2010
By Mike D! - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mr. Cumings book, and the one after it, are painstaking attempts at scholarship. In a sense, everything written in them is true, but also given Cuming's softness for left-wing governments and his strong emotional attachment to Koreans he misinterprets quite a bit. Adding to that is the fact that large amounts of research that is available now that wasn't available when the book was written - since the Soviet Archives have been opened. While this book does challenge the conservative establishment (and that establishment should be challenged as well), maby admirers of Cumings don't challenge his scholarship either. If you only had one book to read about North Korea in 1945-1950, it would be The North Korean Revolution by Charles K. Armstrong. If you have time to read two books, I would suggest throwing in the first few chapters of "Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader" - which, although amazingly good (and strangely addictive), relies heavily on secondary and English only sources. For the broadest perspective, read Origins of the Korean War, then Under the Loving Care, then The North Korean Revolution. Since The North Korean Revolution is the most up to date book with the best scholarship, it deserves to be read last, so it can clear up any mistakes that Cumings has done.

All in all, like most of Cumings books: an ok book, but nothing special. This one gets 2.5 stars. He can write a lot and quote tons of material, but he manages to miss obvious source material and too easily gets emotionally involved.
21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9483ca98) out of 5 stars Truly, the greatest education about Korea you can get. 23 Jan. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is simply the quintessential text on Korea in the 20th century. Both Volume I and Volume II are necessary additions to ANY university library. It is THE book to read for any and all people whose personal or professional lives deal with Korea or Koreans. Reading both volumes is a task, but there is something for everyone in this work, even if you just skip around. It is supported by heavy use of primary documentation and the sources are well cited. There are simply no sources on Korean history, society and politcs that do better (and more) than this work. Highly recommended!
22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9483cc6c) out of 5 stars SUPERB - *THE* GUIDE TO THE ORIGINS OF THIS WAR 18 Nov. 2004
By Nerdus Maximus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It is with appreciation and gratitude that I approach scholars like Bruce Cumings. Courageous, meticulous, and honest, Cumings examines in painstaking detail the societal structure of the Korean state from the end of the Yi Choson dynasty to the role Korea played as a component of the Japanese empire to the various political movements that came to the surface upon Japan's defeat.

Cumings illustrates the existence of true patriots - nationalists who had never collaborated with the occupying Japanese colonizers - who organized a People's Republic which, despite its leftist leanings, did not have in its agenda the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship. These individuals wanted to establish an independent Korea for Koreans and sadly they were obstructed by corrupt, moneyed rightists whose ancestors came from the entrenched landlord/yangban class which had always occupied the highest strata of traditional Korean society - but who had also maintained their privileges by collaborating with the hated Japanese invaders.

And unbeknownst to so many in America, Cumings explains the history of the Soviet-American division of the peninsula - trusteeship, the attitudes by Soviet and American military authorities towards the established People's Republic, the Moscow accords.

It is not without truth that to this day, North Korea calls the Seoul regime "US imperialists' puppets." Kim Il Sung rose to power thanks to Soviet backing and by eliminating rivals, many of who had also spent their lives fighting Japan, and the cult of personality that North Korea is today is not what the leaders of the Korean People's Republic wanted for their people.

This book is a MUST for anyone who wants more than a cursory and cosmetic grasp of the events that unfolded in Korea in 1950. I will soon order volume 2!
30 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9483f2b8) out of 5 stars A Great book :it taught me hidden history of my country 22 Dec. 1999
By Cho - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm a 25 years old Korean man and had grown under absolute anti-communism eduaction under dictatorship of Chun,doowhan. We all hated North Koreans mainly because they began Korean war and -we believed-they were soviet agent. We were taught that America is good-democratic country which aided democratic Korea,and Soviet and China are invaders. But under Chun-U.S.A dictator regime,University students studied our hidden modern history with books like cumings',and new view about Korea had spread out. So I could study hidden part of history with translated books of cumings' Cumings,who is an American historian, pointed out hidden and twisted history of my country better than any historian of Korea I have ever read. His research was so shocking that Korean Government had opressed all students who insists opinion like cumings' And Korean right wings frequntly attacks intellectuals who insist like cumings
But this is a good-formated book and is pull with believable reference. His main references are records made by U.S. military in Korea,1945~1948
With his book, I could recognize that Korean communist movement was internal powerful movement its' influence was originated from left wing's Anti-Japanese struggle,and by removing that movement in South Korea by force with feudal land owners and pro-Japanese bureaucrats, U.S.A spreaded seed of Civil war.
Still, these opinions are threatened by powerful right wing Journalism Like Chosun ilbo (which admires Korean dictator presidents)
But I am confident that future historians of Korea will write our history correctly and Cumings' book will always be a necessary reference for them
19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9483f2dc) out of 5 stars Outstanding book. 19 Oct. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It is my pleasure to emphatically claim
that Mr Cummings have done an outstanding
research job regarding what really
happened before the Korean War. This
monumental work sheds light into a covered
part of history that many people are
unaware of. Having read this book,
I'm really doubtfull about all the conservative
claims that N. Korea was the sole
culprit of the War.
No Korean history is complete without this book.
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