THE CAPTIVES OF KOREA by William L. White

THE CAPTIVES OF KOREA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The facts behind the conflicting, confusing reportage of the painful months when the Korean prisoner stalemate gave the Armistice Commission- and the outside world- a sense that no solution could be reached. Doubtless this study will provide basis for drama in years to come. As it stands, William White has performed the difficult, almost insurmountable task of marshalling statistical records, analyzing truth, evasion and falsehood, sifting propaganda (yes, on all sides) from fact- and livening the depressing record with enough human interest material to give it color. That he has found it necessary perhaps for security purposes, to cloak these stories by using covering terms such as the Doctor, the Ranger, the Artilleryman, etc. takes a bit from the personal narrative quality. He tells in counterpoint what went on first in the camps of the United Nations, then in the camps of the North Koreans and the Chinese Reds. He records the abortive efforts of the Neutrals, the Red Cross headquarters in Switzerland, in Hungary, to get answers to requests, to demands sent to the Communists. He gives the ghastly picture of the starvation program, the interrogation, the torture, the hasty attempt as the Armistice got under way, to cover the tracks. He analyzes the processes of brainwashing, the steps by which confessions were secured, faked, doctored. He attempts to arrive at some conclusions as to why the American percentage of cracking was higher than the British; why youth collapsed more quickly under duress than maturity; why the illiterate succumbed to fear and pressure, and so on. The end picture is a distressing one. For the average reader, it is tough going.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1957
Publisher: Scribner