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History > Military History > Korean War

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Beyond the Shadow of Camptown Cover

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Beyond the Shadow of Camptown

Korean Military Brides in America

Ji-Yeon Yuh

Since the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, nearly 100,000 Korean women have immigrated to the United States as the wives of American soldiers. Based on extensive oral interviews and archival research, Beyond the Shadow of the Camptowns tells the stories of these women, from their presumed association with U.S. military camptowns and prostitution to their struggles within the intercultural families they create in the United States.

Historian Ji-Yeon Yuh argues that military brides are a unique prism through which to view cultural and social contact between Korea and the U.S. After placing these women within the context of Korean-U.S. relations and the legacies of both Japanese and U.S. colonialism vis á vis military prostitution, Yuh goes on to explore their lives, their coping strategies with their new families, and their relationships with their Korean families and homeland. Topics range from the personal—the role of food in their lives—to the communalthe efforts of military wives to form support groups that enable them to affirm Korean identity that both American and Koreans would deny them.

Relayed with warmth and compassion, this is the first in-depth study of Korean military brides, and is a groundbreaking contribution to Asian American, women's, and "new" immigrant studies, while also providing a unique approach to military history.

China's Battle for Korea Cover

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China's Battle for Korea

The 1951 Spring Offensive

Xiaobing Li

Between November 1950 and the end of fighting in June 1953, China launched six major offensives against UN forces in Korea. The most important of these began on April 22, 1951, and was the largest Communist military operation of the war. The UN forces put up a strong defense, prevented the capture of the South Korean capital of Seoul, and finally pushed the Chinese back above the 38th parallel. After China’s defeat in this epic five-week battle, Mao Zedong and the Chinese leadership became willing to conclude the war short of total victory. China's Battle for Korea offers new perspectives on Chinese decision making, planning, and execution; the roles of command, political control, and technology; and the interaction between Beijing, Pyongyang, and Moscow, while providing valuable insight into Chinese military doctrine and the reasons for the UN’s military success.

A Cold Days in Hell Cover

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A Cold Days in Hell

American POWs in Korea

William Clark Latham

Prisoners suffer in every conflict, but American servicemen captured during the Korean War faced a unique ordeal. Like prisoners in other wars, these men endured harsh conditions and brutal mistreatment at the hands of their captors.

In Korea, however, they faced something new: a deliberate enemy program of indoctrination and coercion designed to manipulate them for propaganda purposes. Most Americans rejected their captors’ promise of a Marxist paradise, yet after the cease fire in 1953, American prisoners came home to face a second wave of attacks. Exploiting popular American fears of communist infiltration, critics portrayed the returning prisoners as weak-willed pawns who had been “brainwashed” into betraying their country.

The truth was far more complicated. Following the North Korean assault on the Republic of Korea in June of 1950, the invaders captured more than a thousand American soldiers and brutally executed hundreds more. American prisoners who survived their initial moments of captivity faced months of neglect, starvation, and brutal treatment as their captors marched them north toward prison camps in the Yalu River Valley.

Counterattacks by United Nations forces soon drove the North Koreans back across the 38th Parallel, but the unexpected intervention of Communist Chinese forces in November of 1950 led to the capture of several thousand more American prisoners. Neither the North Koreans nor their Chinese allies were prepared to house or feed the thousands of prisoners in their custody, and half of the Americans captured that winter perished for lack of food, shelter, and medicine. Subsequent communist efforts to indoctrinate and coerce propaganda statements from their prisoners sowed suspicion and doubt among those who survived.

Relying on memoirs, trial transcripts, debriefings, declassified government reports, published analysis, and media coverage, plus conversations, interviews, and correspondence with several dozen former prisoners, William Clark Latham Jr. seeks to correct misperceptions that still linger, six decades after the prisoners came home. Through careful research and solid historical narrative, Cold Days in Hell provides a detailed account of their captivity and offers valuable insights into an ongoing issue: the conduct of prisoners in the hands of enemy captors and the rules that should govern their treatment.

Combat Ready? Cover

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Combat Ready?

The Eighth U.S. Army on the Eve of the Korean War

By Thomas E. Hanson

In the decades since the “forgotten war” in Korea, conventional wisdom has held that the Eighth Army consisted largely of poorly trained, undisciplined troops who fled in terror from the onslaught of the Communist forces. Now, military historian Thomas E. Hanson argues that the generalizations historians and fellow soldiers have used regarding these troops do little justice to the tens of thousands of soldiers who worked to make themselves and their army ready for war. In Hanson's careful study of combat preparedness in the Eighth Army from 1949 to the outbreak of hostilities in 1950, he concedes that the U.S. soldiers sent to Korea suffered gaps in their professional preparation, from missing and broken equipment to unevenly trained leaders at every level of command. But after a year of progressive, focused, and developmental collective training—based largely on the lessons of combat in World War II—these soldiers expected to defeat the Communist enemy. By recognizing the constraints under which the Eighth Army operated, Hanson asserts that scholars and soldiers will be able to discard what Douglas Macarthur called the "pernicious myth" of the Eighth Army's professional, physical, and moral ineffectiveness.  

A Foxhole View Cover

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A Foxhole View

Personal Accounts of Hawaii's Korean War Veterans

Louis Baldovi

A Foxhole View is a powerful and moving oral history of the Korean War. Here are highly personal accounts of the war from the rank and file of the infantry--told in the distinctive voices of Hawaii's soldiers.

Haunting the Korean Diaspora Cover

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Haunting the Korean Diaspora

Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War

Grace M. Cho

Since the Korean War—the forgotten war—more than a million Korean women have acted as sex workers for U.S. servicemen. More than 100,000 women married GIs and moved to the United States. Through intellectual vigor and personal recollection, Haunting the Korean Diaspora explores the repressed history of emotional and physical violence between the United States and Korea and the unexamined reverberations of sexual relationships between Korean women and American soldiers. Grace M. Cho exposes how Koreans in the United States have been profoundly affected by the forgotten war and uncovers the silences and secrets that still surround it, arguing that trauma memories have been passed unconsciously through a process psychoanalysts call “transgenerational haunting.” Tracing how such secrets have turned into “ghosts,” Cho investigates the mythic figure of the yanggongju, literally the “Western princess,” who provides sexual favors to American military personnel. She reveals how this figure haunts both the intimate realm of memory and public discourse, in which narratives of U.S. benevolence abroad and assimilation of immigrants at home go unchallenged. Memories of U.S. violence, Cho writes, threaten to undo these narratives—and so they have been rendered unspeakable. At once political and deeply personal, Cho’s wide-ranging and innovative analysis of U.S. neocolonialism and militarism under contemporary globalization brings forth a new way of understanding—and remembering—the impact of the Korean War.

I Cannot Forget Cover

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I Cannot Forget

Imprisoned in Korea, Accused at Home

Judith Fenner Gentry

Eighteen-year-old Johnny Moore was an energetic, self-confident private first class when he entered combat with a heavy-weapons platoon in Korea. Four and a half months later, after surviving heavy attacks on the Pusan Perimeter and in one of the forward units of the western column advancing on the Yalu River, he was captured by the Chinese infantry.

Moore and other American POWs suffered from starvation rations, bitter cold, and mental torment. Although the intense Chinese efforts to change the prisoners’ ideologies were largely unsuccessful, they were very effective in engendering distrust among the prisoners and abandonment of duty by the officers. Encouraged by an American sergeant, Moore worked with his captors to obtain better sanitation, a fairer distribution of food, and, on two occasions, medicine for the sick. Twice he tried to escape from imprisonment. Just four days after his twenty-first birthday, in 1953, the Chinese released him.

Moore cooperated fully with US military interrogators, giving as much information as he could on the prison camp and the methods his captors had used. But two years later, army officers arrested him at his home and charged him with treason. Although the charge was dropped and a Field Board of Inquiry returned him to regular duty, the army’s treatment of him left Moore further traumatized. He eventually went AWOL and turned to drinking, gambling, and other self-destructive behaviors.

Military historian Judith Fenner Gentry has worked with Moore’s memoirs of his experiences during and after the war to corroborate, clarify, elaborate, and situate his story within the larger events in Korea and in the Cold War. She has consulted records from courts-martial, newspaper interviews with returning POWs, and Freedom of Information Act documents on the Army Criminal Investigation Division and the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps.

The Imjin and Kapyong Battles, Korea, 1951 Cover

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The Imjin and Kapyong Battles, Korea, 1951

S. P. MacKenzie

The actions of the British 29th Brigade in defending the Imjin River line—in particular the sacrifice of the "Glorious Glosters"—and the hilltop fights of Australian and Canadian battalions in the Kapyong Valley have achieved greater renown in those nations than any other military action since World War II. This book is the first to compare in any depth what happened and why. Using official and unofficial source material ranging from personal interviews to war diaries, this study seeks to disentangle the mythology surrounding both battles and explain why events unfolded as they did. Based on thorough familiarity with all available sources, many not previously utilized, it sheds new light on fighting "the forgotten war."

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In Enemy Hands

A Prisoner in North Korea

Larry Zellers

" A newly married Methodist minister, Larry Zellers was serving as a missionary and teacher in a small South Korean town near the 38th parallel when he was captured by the North Koreans on June 25, 1950. Until his release in 1953, Zellers endured brutal conditions and inhumane treatment. Through his story, Zellers shows that, despite the opinion that POWs live only for themselves, many in the camps worked to help others and conducted themselves with honor.

In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation Cover

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In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation

The Americans Who Fought the Korean War

By Melinda L. Pash

In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation traces the shared experiences of Korean War veterans from their childhoods in the Great Depression and World War II through military induction and training,the war, and efforts in more recent decades to organize and gain wider recognition of their service.
 
Largely overshadowed by World War II’s “greatest generation” and the more vocal veterans of the Vietnam era, Korean War veterans remain relatively invisible in the narratives of both war and its aftermath. Yet, just as the beaches of Normandy and the jungles of Vietnam worked profound changes on conflict participants,the Korean Peninsula chipped away at the beliefs, physical and mental well-being, and fortitude of Americans completing wartime tours of duty there. Upon returning home, Korean War veterans struggled with home front attitudes toward the war, faced employment and family dilemmas, and wrestled with readjustment. Not unlike other wars, Korea proved a formative and defining influence on the men and women stationed in theater, on their loved ones,and in some measure on American culture. In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation not only gives voice to those Americans who served in the “forgotten war” but chronicles the larger personal and collective consequences of waging war the American way.

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