Hickey’s text is clear and concise but falls short of a definitive history of the Korean War—too much is left out to justify...



A British officer’s history of the events of “The Forgotten War” in Korea.

Hickey (The Unforgettable Army, not reviewed), a Korean War veteran, reports on the main events of a war fought amid the extremes of sub-zero cold and exhausting heat. The US Army was taken by surprise when the North Korean Army crossed the 38th parallel in 1950, and it lacked combat readiness after five undemanding years of garrison duty in postwar Japan. Together with unreliable Republic of Korea troops they were thrown into the bloody cauldron of combat against a prepared, ruthless enemy—and almost driven into the sea after a panic-filled retreat, until a reinforced defensive line finally held at the Pusan Perimeter in southernmost Korea. MacArthur’s brilliant landing at Inchon, plus a renewed UN allied offensive saved the day. But, as everyone knows, MacArthur ignored the orders of President Truman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, driving relentlessly to the Yalu River at the Manchurian frontier. Truman, fearing another world war with China and the Soviet Union, replaced MacArthur with General Ridgway after massive Chinese armies entered the war and forced UN forces to retreat. Hickey notes the heroic performance of the US Marines, their engineers, and the US Air Force at the Chosen Reservoir. Ridgway rallied his troops after the famous “bug out” of US and Allied troops before the huge numbers of Chinese, and he stiffened the UN lines before the long stalemate during the peace talks and the bloodletting at Pork Chop Hill. Hickey dwells at length on the experiences of the British and Australians, although the US contributed most of the manpower, supplies, and air and naval power that decided the war’s end. Hickey’s viewpoint is that of the commanders and has little to relate about the grunts on the firing lines who suffered and died, so the reader does not get the tragic sense of the terror, heroics, and high emotion of combat. His approach suggests the reporting of a staff officer in the rear—out of harm’s way.

Hickey’s text is clear and concise but falls short of a definitive history of the Korean War—too much is left out to justify the title.

Pub Date: June 25, 2000

ISBN: 1-58567-035-9

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?