THE KOREAN WAR--PUSAN TO CHOSIN: An Oral History by Donald Knox


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A principal virtue of this moving and lengthy reprise of the Korean War's first seven months is its wide-angle, human-scale focus. Using excerpts from unit combat diaries, official communiqu‚s, news reports, and other contemporary sources, Knox (Death March, Delta Force) sketches in the big picture. The real story, however, is in the day-to-day detail provided by scores of officers and enlisted men who survived savage campaigns in such places as Ascom City, Hagaru-ri, P'yongyang, Taegu, Wonsan, et al. After WW II, Korea was partitioned into Soviet and US zones of military occupation with the 38th parallel as the dividing line. When North Korean forces invaded South Korea in June of 1950, the UN authorized member nations to come to the latter's aid. Ill-prepared American soldiers under the overall command of General Douglas MacArthur bore the brunt of the fighting during the conflict's early stages. By August, the Eighth Army and its ROK allies had been pushed into defensive positions around the Pusan Perimeter with their backs to the sea. MacArthur regained the initiative with a daring amphibious assault at Inch'on and the September recapture of Seoul. Suddenly, North Korea's troops were in full retreat, and there was widespread expectation of an armistice before Christmas. But during the 1 st Marine Division's advance into North Korea's highlands, it encountered a new enemy--the Chinese. Surrounded at the Chosin Reservoir, the Marines executed a valiant withdrawal over mountainous terrain, reaching an evacuation port with their wounded and equipment. Knox leaves them and their Army comrades on New Year's Eve, waiting for the next attack by the Chinese. The remarkable courage and resilience displayed by American forces on Korea's killing grounds is a story well worth the retelling. Knox offers an eloquent record of the sacrifices made by those who fought long ago in this hostile land.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1985
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich