Controversial, entertaining and sometimes plausible account of a long-secret, behind-the-lines 1952 mission into North Korea.
The North’s 1950 invasion of South Korea caught the United States by surprise. Six months later, massive Chinese forces descended on advancing UN troops, again catching America unaware. A furious President Truman realized that neither the newly formed CIA nor the extensive military intelligence services had reliable sources of information in the Far East, let alone in Korea itself. As a temporary fix, he approved a bizarre covert operation whose members were sworn to secrecy until 1998. Nine volunteers landed by submarine inside North Korea, where they met a unit of Chinese Nationalist soldiers wearing communist uniforms. Posing as the captured crew of a B-29 bomber, the Americans and their fake captors drove across North Korea, picking up reports from local spies and radioing the findings. A helicopter was to collect the men when they reached the opposite coast, but communist forces ambushed the group, and only the author survived. Boyd, a communications specialist responsible for encoding and transmission, writes that he was staggered at the spies’ findings, which revealed new armies of well-trained and eager Chinese and North Koreans, a steady stream of supplies flowing south, extensive fortifications along the coast and behind the lines and airfields in Manchuria where Russian nuclear-armed bombers waited in case UN forces approached too near. The author maintains that this knowledge prevented World War III by convincing Truman it would be suicide to advance further. Some readers may question this assertion. Historians agree that essentially all spies sent to North Korea were either killed or captured and forced to send false information.
Readers who suspend disbelief will encounter an absorbing, technically accurate story of military derring-do from a half-forgotten war.