A firsthand account of the American Jewish experience on the front lines of the Korean War
During the height of the Korean conflict, 1950–51, Orthodox Jewish chaplain Milton J. Rosen wrote 19 feature-length articles for Der Morgen Zhornal, a Yiddish daily in New York, documenting his wartime experiences as well as those of the servicemen under his care. Rosen was among those nearly caught in the Chinese entrapment of American and Allied forces in North Korea in late 1950, and some of his most poignant writing details the trying circumstances that faced both soldiers and civilians during that time.
As chaplain, Rosen was able to offer a unique account of the American Jewish experience on the frontlines and in the United States military while also describing the impact of the American presence on Korean citizens and their culture. His interest in Korean attitudes toward Jews is also a significant theme within these articles.
Stanley R. Rosen has translated his father’s articles into English and provides background on Milton Rosen’s military service before and after the Korean conflict. He presents an introductory overview of the war and includes helpful maps and photographs. The sum is a readable account of war and its turmoil from an astute and compassionate observer.
Cold War Crucible
Masuda Hajimu Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress D843.M265 2014 | Dewey Decimal 909.825
After World War II, the major powers faced social upheaval at home and anti-colonial wars around the globe. Alarmed by conflict in Korea that could change U.S.-Soviet relations from chilly to nuclear, ordinary people and policymakers created a fantasy of a bipolar Cold War world in which global and domestic order was paramount, Masuda Hajimu shows.
The Korean War has been called the “forgotten war,” not as studied as World War II or Vietnam. Choi examines the collective memory of the Korean War through five discrete memory sites in the United States and South Korea, including the PBS documentary Battle for Korea, the Korean War Memorial in Salt Lake City, and the statue of General Douglas MacArthur in Incheon, South Korea. She contends that these sites are not static; rather, they are active places where countermemories of the war clash with the official state-sanctioned remembrance. Through lively and compelling analysis of these memory sites, which include two differing accounts of the No Gun Ri massacre\--contemporaneous journalism and oral histories by survivors\--Choi shows diverse narratives of the Korean War competing for dominance in acts of remembering. Embattled Memories is an important interdisciplinary work in two fields, memory studies and public history, from an understudied perspective, that of witnesses to the Korean War.
To boost soldiers’ morale and remind them of the stakes of victory, the American military formalized a recreation program that sent respectable young women, along with famous entertainers, overseas. This history of the women who talked and listened, danced and sang, adds an intimate chapter to the story of war and its ties to life in peacetime.
From World War II to the war in Iraq, periods of international conflict seem like unique moments in U.S. political history—but when it comes to public opinion, they are not. To make this groundbreaking revelation, In Time of War explodes conventional wisdom about American reactions to World War II, as well as the more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Adam Berinsky argues that public response to these crises has been shaped less by their defining characteristics—such as what they cost in lives and resources—than by the same political interests and group affiliations that influence our ideas about domestic issues.
With the help of World War II–era survey data that had gone virtually untouched for the past sixty years, Berinsky begins by disproving the myth of “the good war” that Americans all fell in line to support after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The attack, he reveals, did not significantly alter public opinion but merely punctuated interventionist sentiment that had already risen in response to the ways that political leaders at home had framed the fighting abroad. Weaving his findings into the first general theory of the factors that shape American wartime opinion, Berinsky also sheds new light on our reactions to other crises. He shows, for example, that our attitudes toward restricted civil liberties during Vietnam and after 9/11 stemmed from the same kinds of judgments we make during times of peace.
With Iraq and Afghanistan now competing for attention with urgent issues within the United States, In Time of War offers a timely reminder of the full extent to which foreign and domestic politics profoundly influence—and ultimately illuminate—each other.
By June 1953 the Korean War, marked at the outset by extremely fluid advances and retreats up and down the peninsula, had settled into position warfare very near the original pre-war demarcation line between North and South Korea. At this point both sides were fighting to win a peace, to achieve incremental advantages that could be translated into gains at the peace negotiations in Panmunjom. These last days of the war saw savage battles for control of important local terrain features, and in the trench warfare of the Chorwon Valley a young U.S. Army lieutenant was assigned to lead an infantry company charged with holding Outpost Harry against a determined Chinese assault.
The battle devolved into hand-to-hand combat during a period of constant, intense fighting that lasted two days. The author, although seriously wounded that night, refused evacuation and remained on the hill to successfully lead his company in defense of the outpost. It wasn’t romantic; it wasn’t chivalrous; and many died or were badly wounded. Some of the survivors never fully overcame the mental and physical damage they suffered during the nightmare.
With this book, one of those scarred by that experience recounts the events of the battle and his lifelong efforts to deal with the residual horrors. The Korean Conflict may be called “the forgotten war” by some, but not by those who were on the front lines.
The Naval Air War in Korea
Richard P. Hallion University of Alabama Press, 2011 Library of Congress DS920.2.U5H35 2011 | Dewey Decimal 951.904245
“In The Naval Air War in Korea, Dr. Hallion has captured the fact, feel- ing, and fancy of a very important conflict in aviation history, in- cluding the highly significant facets of the transition from piston to jet-propelled combat aircraft.”—Norman Polmar, author of Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, 18th Edition
Outpost Kelly: A Tanker's Story
Jack R. Siewert, with a foreword by Paul M Edwards University of Alabama Press, 2006 Library of Congress DS919.S5 2006 | Dewey Decimal 951.904242
In the second year of the Korean War, Jack Siewert commanded a platoon of five M-46 tanks. Temporarily assigned to provide fire support for an infantry battalion on the front, he eventually found himself in the midst of intense fighting for a relatively unknown and unimportant hill, code named Outpost Kelly.
Those four days of battle against Chinese forces form the heart of this memoir, which is unique in its focus on the hill fighting that dominated two thirds of the Korean War. Trained to take advantage of his tanks’ mobility, his orders—to provide direct fire support for advancing infantry—along with the mountainous terrain and the torrential monsoon rains that created shin-deep fields of impenetrable mud, forced him to abandon doctrine and improvise.
At the height of the fighting, Siewert was able to bring to bear the guns from only one of his five tanks against the enemy. Nevertheless, his platoon played a key role in allowing members of the 15th Infantry to retake Outpost Kelly, and he offers an excellent analysis of how theory and experience come together in a point-of-the-spear military situation.
Siewert's platoon played a key role in allowing members of the 15th Infantry to retake Outpost Kelly, and he offers an excellent analysis of how theory and experience come together in a point-of-the-spear military situation. Outpost Kelly also paints a fascinating picture of the type of fighting, often overlooked, that characterized the second and third years of the Korean War. With truce talks proceeding in Panmunjom, both sides fought to claim incremental pieces of real estate along the demarcation line between North and South.
In the grand scheme of the war, the battle for Outpost Kelly might not ahce meant much. But for 3rd Infantry Division, and the men, like Jack Siewert, who fought there, it was the entire focal point of the war during the last four days of July, 1952.
In Reencounters,Crystal Mun-hye Baik examines what it means to live with and remember an ongoing war when its manifestations—hypervisible and deeply sensed—become everyday formations delinked from militarization. Contemplating beyond notions of inherited trauma and post memory, Baik offers the concept of reencounters to better track the Korean War’s illegible entanglements through an interdisciplinary archive of diasporic memory works that includes oral history projects, performances, and video installations rarely examined by Asian American studies scholars.
Baik shows how Korean refugee migrations are repackaged into celebrated immigration narratives, how transnational adoptees are reclaimed by the South Korean state as welcomed “returnees,” and how militarized colonial outposts such as Jeju Island are recalibrated into desirable tourist destinations. Baik argues that as the works by Korean and Korean/American artists depict this Cold War historiography, they also offer opportunities to remember otherwise the continuing war.
Ultimately, Reencounters wrestles with questions of the nature of war, racial and sexual violence, and neoliberal surveillance in the twenty-first century.
Hyung K. Shin was sixteen years old when the North Korean army invaded South Korea in June 1950. Fleeing his home, Shin soon found himself alone in Pusan, a refugee without resources or any means of support. To save himself from destitution, he lied about his age and volunteered for service in the South Korean army. Shin’s account of the months that followed is a moving record of the Korean War from the perspective of an ordinary ROK soldier. He recounts his hasty training and subsequent experiences as a battlefield soldier in North Korea, as a guard in a prisoner-of-war camp, and as a refugee again in the massive flight of civilians and ROK military personnel retreating before the onslaught of the Chinese invasion. Through it all, Shin struggles to retain his humanity and pursue his education. In the process, the naïve schoolboy becomes a man. Today, Hyung K. Shin is an internationally respected chemist, but in the pages of this memoir he carries us back to Korea during a pivotal moment in that country’s history. This is the first account in English that describes the war from the perspective of a Korean who lived through and fought in it. Shin’s detailed and lively narrative is a stirring monument to the survival of human decency and kindness in the midst of terror, cruelty, despair, and the destruction of a proud nation.
The Korean War was a major event in American history. It marked an abrupt end to the euphoria Americans felt in the wake of victory in World War II and turned out to be the harbinger of disaster in Vietnam a decade later.
Though three years of brutal fighting resulted in millions of casualties, the final truce line of 1953 corresponded almost exactly to the positions the opponents held when the fighting began. Back home, the returning veterans met with little interest in or appreciation of what they had endured. Consequently, literary responses to the Korean War did not find an eager readership. Few people, it seemed, wanted to read about what they perceived as a backwater war that possessed neither grand scale nor apparent nobility, a war that ended not with a bang, but a whimper.
Yet an important literature has come out of the Korean War. As we mark the fiftieth anniversary of the war, these writings are well worth our attention. Many of the twelve stories and fifty poems assembled in Retrieving Bones have long been out of print and are almost impossible to find in any other source. The editors have enhanced this collection by providing maps, a chronology of the Korean War, and annotated lists of novels, works of nonfiction, and films. In a detailed introduction, Ehrhart and Jason discuss the milestones of the Korean War and place each fiction writer and poet represented into historical and literary contexts.
Common and destructive, limited wars are significant international events that pose a number of challenges to the states involved beyond simple victory or defeat. Chief among these challenges is the risk of escalation—be it in the scale, scope, cost, or duration of the conflict. In this book, Spencer D. Bakich investigates a crucial and heretofore ignored factor in determining the nature and direction of limited war: information institutions.
Traditional assessments of wartime strategy focus on the relationship between the military and civilians, but Bakich argues that we must take into account the information flow patterns among top policy makers and all national security organizations. By examining the fate of American military and diplomatic strategy in four limited wars, Bakich demonstrates how not only the availability and quality of information, but also the ways in which information is gathered, managed, analyzed, and used, shape a state’s ability to wield power effectively in dynamic and complex international systems.
Utilizing a range of primary and secondary source materials, Success and Failure in Limited War makes a timely case for the power of information in war, with crucial implications for international relations theory and statecraft.
Detailing for the first time the story of America's homefront during the Korean War, Truman and Korea fills an important gap in the historical scholarship of the postwar era. Paul Pierpaoli analyzes the political, economic, social, and international ramifications of America's first war of Soviet containment, never losing sight of the larger context of the cold war. He focuses on how and why the Truman administration undertook a bloody, inconclusive war on the Korean peninsula while permanently placing the nation on a war footing.
Truman and Korea illuminates the importance of the Korean conflict as a critical turning point in the cold war by examining both the immediate and the long-term domestic and foreign policy effects of the conflict. Pierpaoli addresses such important topics as presidential war powers and debates concerning the Defense Production Act; the inner workings of the many war mobilization agencies; the operations and politics of nationwide price and wage controls; questions concerning cold war tax policies and fiscal and monetary policies; and the evolution of national security policy.
Pierpaoli shows that President Truman's decision to intervene in the Korean War quickly became subsumed by larger cold war concerns. By the autumn of 1950 the Korean mobilization program had become the nation's de facto cold war preparedness program, which would come to span nearly forty years and eight presidential administrations. After 1950 the cold war not only continued to significantly shape political and ideological discourse in the United States but also began to reshape aggregate economic policy. By doing so, it altered the nation's industrial and economic contours, giving birth to the concept of an institutionalized "national security state," which in turn spawned the cold war military-industrial-scientific complex.
Based upon extensive research in the papers and official presidential files of Harry S. Truman, as well as many manuscript collections and records of wartime and government agencies, Truman and Korea offers a new perspective on the Korean War era and its inextricable ties to broader cold war decision making.
Known as the Forgotten War, the "police action" in Korea resulted in almost as many American combat deaths in three years as the Vietnam War did in ten. Yet for many Americans today, the Korean War brings to mind nothing more than the television series "M*A*S*H."
William Dannenmaier served in Korea with the U.S. Army from December 1952 to January 1954, first as a radioman and then as a radio scout with the Fifteenth Infantry Regiment. Eager to serve a cause in which he fervently believed—the safeguarding of South Korea from advancing Chinese Communists—he enlisted in the army with an innocence that soon evaporated. His letters from the front, most of them to his sister, Ethel, provide a springboard for his candid and wry observations of the privations, the boredom, and the devastation of infantry life. At the same time these letters, designed to disguise the true danger of his tasks and his dehumanizing circumstances, reflect a growing failure to communicate with those outside the combat situation.
Woven through the letters is Dannenmaier's narrative account of his combat experiences, including a vivid re-creation of the bloody battle for Outpost Harry, which he describes as "trivial and insignificant—except to the men who fought it."A high-intensity, eight-day battle for a hill American forces would abandon three months later with the signing of the truce, Outpost Harry was largely ignored by the press despite heavy casualties and many official citations for heroism.
From his vantage point as an Everyman, Dannenmaier describes the frustration of men on the front lines who never saw their commanding superiors, the exhaustion of soldiers whose long-promised leaves never materialized, the transitory friendships and shared horrors that left indelible memories. Endangered by minefields and artillery fire, ground down by rumors and constant tension, these men returned—if they returned at all—profoundly and irrevocably changed.
This intimate, revealing memoir, a rare account by a common soldier, is a tribute to the Americans who served in a conflict that has only recently begun to gain a place in official public memory.
The Will to Win focuses on the substantial role of US military advisors to the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) from 1946 until 1953 in one of America’s early attempts at nation building.
Gibby describes ROKA’s structure, mission, challenges, and successes, thereby linking the South Korean army and their US advisors to the traditional narrative of this “forgotten war.” The work also demonstrates the difficulties inherent in national reconstruction, focusing on barriers in culture and society, and the effects of rapid decolonization combined with intense nationalism and the appeal of communism to East Asia following the destruction of the Japanese empire. Key conclusions include the importance of individual advisors, the significance of the prewar advisory effort, and the depth of the impact these men had on individual Korean units and in a few cases on the entire South Korean army.
The success or failure of South Korean government in the decade following the end of World War II hinged on the loyalty, strength, and fighting capability of its army, which in turn relied on its American advisors. Gibby argues that without a proficient ROKA, the 1953 armistice, still in effect today, would not have been possible. He reexamines the Korean conflict from its beginning in 1945—particularly Korean politics, military operations, and armed forces—and demonstrates the crucial role the American military advisory program and personnel played to develop a more competent and reliable Korean army.
A companion to the Wisconsin Public Television documentary of the same name, this compelling book features the stories of Wisconsin men and women who served in Korea. With unique insight they describe their experiences in camp, on the battlefield, and back home, as well as the war's lasting effects. The book is lavishly illustrated with photos, artifacts, maps, and timelines.