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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.

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.

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."

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.

The Korean War in World History Cover

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The Korean War in World History

William Stueck

" The Korean War in World History features the accomplishments of noted scholars over the last decade and lays the groundwork for the next generation of scholarship. These essays present the latest thinking on the Korean War, focusing on the relationship of one country to the war. William Stueck’s introduction and conclusion link each essay to the rich historiography of the event and suggest the war’s place within the history of the twentieth century. The Korean War had two very different faces. On one level the conflict was local, growing out of the internal conditions of Korea and fought almost entirely within the confines of a small Asian country located far from Europe. The fighting pitted Korean against Korean in a struggle to determine the balance of political power within the country. Yet the war had a huge impact on the international politics of the Cold War. Combat threatened to extend well beyond the peninsula, potentially igniting another global conflagration and leaving in its wake a much escalated arms race between the Western and Eastern blocs. The dynamics of that division remain today, threatening international peace and security in the twenty-first century. Contributors: Lloyd Gardner, Chen Jian, Allan R. Millett, Michael Schaller, and Kathryn Weathersby

MASH Cover

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MASH

An Army Surgeon in Korea

Otto Apel

" When North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, Otto Apel was a surgical resident living in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and three young children. A year later he was chief surgeon of the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital constantly near the front lines in Korea. Immediately upon arriving in camp, Apel performed 80 hours of surgery. His feet swelled so badly that he had to cut his boots off, and he saw more surgical cases in those three and a half days than he would have in a year back in Cleveland. There were also the lighter moments. When a Korean came to stay at the 8076th, word of her beauty spread so rapidly that they needed MPs just to direct traffic. Apel also recalls a North Korean aviator, nicknamed ""Bedcheck Charlie,"" who would drop a phony grenade from an open-cockpit biplane, a story later filmed for the television series. He also tells of the day the tent surrounding the women's shower was ""accidentally"" blown off by a passing helicopter. In addition to his own story, Apel details the operating conditions, workload, and patient care at the MASH units while revealing the remarkable advances made in emergency medical care. MASH units were the first hospitals designed for operations close to the front lines, and from this particularly difficult vantage, their medical staffs were responsible for innovations in the use of antibiotics and blood plasma and in arterial repair. On film and television, MASH doctors and nurses have been portrayed as irreverent and having little patience with standard military procedures. In this powerful memoir, Apel reveals just how realistic these portrayals were.

A Morning in June Cover

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A Morning in June

Defending Outpost Harry

Written by James W. Evans and foreword by John S. D. Eisenhower

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.

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