COLDER THAN HELL by Joseph R. Owen

COLDER THAN HELL

A Marine Rifle Company at Chosin Reservoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A splendid first-person account of what was arguably the most remarkable engagement of the Korean War. When word came that North Korean troops had invaded the partitioned south in mid-1950, Owen (a WW II vet who had returned to the Marines as a second lieutenant after graduating from Colgate) was lolling on a North Carolina beach at Camp Lejeune with his wife and two young children. He soon joined Baker Company of the 1st Marine Division's Seventh Regiment and was put in charge of a mortar platoon. Arriving in Korea shortly after the Inchon landing had given UN forces the initiative against their Communist adversaries, Owen and his men (a motley crew of raw recruits, inexperienced reservists, and salty regulars) fought their way inland, headed north toward the Yalu River. Strung out along narrow roads in mountainous terrain with winter coming on, the marines encountered unexpectedly strong opposition from the Chinese army, which had entered the conflict in October. Battling the elements as well as the Chinese, the regiment withdrew from the Chosin Reservoir (hard by North Korea's border with China) in good order and inflicted terrible punishment. But the butcher's bill was high on both sides: All but 27 of the 300-odd enlisted men and officers in Owen's Company were wounded, captured, or killed during the withdrawal. Owen himself was badly wounded before the final breakout. During his violent and bloody sojourn in Korea's frozen wastes, the author amassed a wealth of telling detail on the grim realities of mortal combat. Owen's flair for narrative and his gut-level perspectives on life and death in the front lines make for an eloquent tribute to the disciplined courage and esprit de corps displayed by his comrades in arms. (22 photos, 2 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1996
ISBN: 1-55750-660-4
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996




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