THE COLDEST WAR: A Memoir of Korea by James Brady
Kirkus Star

THE COLDEST WAR: A Memoir of Korea

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A brutally candid but affecting recollection of a tour of duty with a Marine Corps rifle company during the Korean War. By no means gung-ho going in, Brady (Parade columnist; Designs, 1986, etc.) had enrolled in a summer-camp program that allowed him to finish college without worrying about the military draft. Shortly after he graduated in 1950 (with a commission in the USMC Reserve), however, North Korean troops rolled south, and Brady was mobilized. (By no coincidence, his book's publication date coincides with the 40th anniversary of the onslaught of combat.) At any rate, he arrived in ""the land of the morning calm"" on Thanksgiving weekend in 1951. By that time, UN and Communist forces (which now included Chinese ""volunteers"") had become locked in a bloody stalemate along the 38th Parallel's dauntingly steep ridges. Assigned to a craggy outpost where (as a 22-year-old second lieutenant) he took command of a platoon, Brady and his men battled not only an elusive, largely unseen enemy but also the elements. Later, without regret for the bone-chilling winds that swept down on them from Siberia, the author realized that combat in the hellish heat of a Korean summer held its own special horrors. ""You could see the wounds,"" he recalls, ""see what killed people."" While on the front lines, nonetheless, Brady knew firsthand what Winston Churchill characterized as the exhilaration of being ""shot at without result."" He also came to know who could be trusted in a firefight or on patrol, to scorn rear-echelon punks, to take genuine pride in professionalism, to keep his emotional distance from subordinates (who might have to be sent on dangerous details), to cherish small luxuries like dry socks, and, finally, to understand the great good fortune of surviving. The best trench-level account of the largely unsung police action since Martin Russ' The Last Parallel (1956). Brady's unsparing text has eight pages of photos (not seen).

Pub Date: June 25th, 1990
ISBN: 1429901950
Publisher: Orion/Crown