The epic retreat-under-fire of the First Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir in the depths of a North Korean winter--from the point of view of the men in the foxholes and tanks and command posts and hospital wards. Hammel first sketches in the errors and miscalculations (on the part of the US and MacArthur) that caused the division to be strung out at the end of a narrow road scores of miles from the sea. He then plunges right into the action: the massing of Chinese forces in about ten-to-one strength; the Marines' command problems due to the climate and terrain and high-level overconfidence; and the onset of the Chinese assault, designed to annihilate the entire division. There is a wealth of tactical detail and small-unit action; the narrative cuts rapidly from one part of the column to the other, back to headquarters, to supply depots or hospitals, in an often vivid recreation of the emotional drama of warfare. Individual portraits abound--from the intelligence officer trying to make sense of data he's been told is unimportant, to the engineers using frozen enemy bodies to improvise a bridge, to tired, frightened marines being marched off to POW camps. In one of the most startling episodes, a battle-weary officer reporting to a rear headquarters finds formally dressed staff personnel sitting down to full-course dinners. The fullest work on this remarkable episode (apart from the official histories), and a valuable perspective on war at the gut level.