THE WAR IN THE WARDS: Korea's Unknown Battle by Stanley Weintraub

THE WAR IN THE WARDS: Korea's Unknown Battle

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Scene: an American prisoner-of-war camp on the Korean mainland in spring, 1952. Personae: medical staff of the PW hospital and eight thousand sick or wounded Chinese and North Korean prisoners of war. Action: attempts to carry out screening of the captives for voluntary repatriation to the North or equally voluntary defection to South Korea...and mutiny among the pro-Communist prisoners to thwart the attempt. Entries from April 15 to April 30 in the daily journal of an administrative officer in the hospital record the mutiny's development into a ""war."" Under the leadership of Communist honchos, several compounds hold out against all entry, medical care, and screening teams. The opportunity to defect, although contrary to the Geneva convention, had been offered on humane grounds, without and political duress. At the same time, in North Korea, the Communists were busily propagandizing against the Americans, accusing them of brainwashing and forcible defection methods that were, in fact, employed only by the propagandists themselves. The second set of journal entries from April 30 to May 22 covers the eventual capitulation of the mutinous wards after rations had finally been withheld from them. Approximately 30% of the prisoners screened South and the ""war"" was over -- an incident that hardly reached the newspapers, but was overwhelmingly real and dramatic to the participants, one of whom has published this record. Interesting documentary on still another problematic issue introduced by the contemporary version of see-sawing political ideologies.

Publisher: Doubleday