WAR IN PEACETIME: The History and Lessons of Korea by J. Lawton Collins

WAR IN PEACETIME: The History and Lessons of Korea

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Collins served as Army Chief of Staff during the Korean War; this is the first memoir by a member of the Joint Chiefs as then constituted. It will be read as an analogue to Vietnam and a supplement to Ridgway's biography (Ridgway comes across here as a fierce soldier). What it tries to show are more interesting than specific military sequences or general comments on ""limited war."" Collins gets most exercised over lack of resources -- what he saw as a skimpy budget and an excessive post- WWII demobilization. The ""military-political background'"" presents a Manichean view of the clash unsullied by scholarship or self doubt; the U.N. role is distorted and the domino theory blithely invoked. This is neither the snowy newsreel war nor the war of the Bomber Command with its napalm and atomic threats, but the conference-room War, with MacArthur taking advantage of basic muddles over basic aims. Collins seems to have enjoyed it despite the frustrations and irresolutions; at least the tone suggests relish even apart from his jolly mission to Rhee during the negotiations, his disregard for casualty totals, the drama of the MacArthur Hearings. As a primary source for decision-making studies and American historians, the book has self-evident value.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1969
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin