The Coldest Winter

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The Coldest Winter

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mar 8, 2008, 9:23 pm

I just finished The Coldest Winter:America and the Korean War by David Halberstam. As a veteran of the Korean War, I have read a fair number of military histories of that black hole in our history. But this is by far the best acccount because it includes the political background of the war. With Russian and Chinese archives at least partially opened up, the author was able to dig out facts that have been long suppressed (e.g., the absence of a monolithic mindset among the Communist powers).

The great tragedy of Korea, as Halberstam shows, is that it is still another example of a war caused in part by intelligence and policy failures and shot through in its pursuit with disasters brought on by downright stupidity, supreme egos (e.g. MacArthur as well as Mao and Kim Il Sung who wouldn't listen to anyone except yes men), bad decision-making in Washington, military blunders of the first order, and inexcuseable ignorance by people who should have been more aware of the realities of Korean politics and society.

Halberstam believes that the lessons of the Korean War were missed by those who led us into Vietnam and Iraq. Let's hope that our future leaders read this fine book and absorb its insightful content.

mar 9, 2008, 9:32 am

A bright Shining Lie covers some of these issues as well.