- The Korean War: The Essential Bibliography
The "Essential Bibliography" series features works by recognized authors that combine a historiographical essay with a current bibliography on significant subjects. As such the series is an important resource for student and scholar alike. The selection of Dr. Allan Millett, distinguished teacher and author, for the period of the Korean War was an excellent one, and Dr. Millett has delivered as expected.
If you are a follower of Millett's work, as I am, you will quickly note that a significant portion of this material has been provided elsewhere. The Korean War, however, presents it in a highly comprehensive and workable form. His historical description of the Korean War is insightful and well done, and is obviously the result of his many years of research and investigation.
In the bibliographic essays he begins with a wide and informative resource on the Communist side of the war. He moves on to an analysis of the vast number of materials that deal with the political—both national and international—implications of the war. His consideration of the military aspect of the war is well constructed and as up to date as can be expected for an area where new materials are constantly being published. His final chapter, Looking for the Korean War, is well presented and comprehensive. The book ends with some excellent websites recommendations, notes, and a strong bibliography that cites references in English, Korean, Russian, and Chinese.
For what it is intended to be, the book is excellent. It is clear and well written as the reader has come to expect from Dr. Millett. The positions taken reflect sound scholarship, careful consideration, and reasoned analysis. It is by far one of the best overviews available. If you are a serious student of the Korean War, then I suspect this book will not add a great deal to your collection. But for the many who are not so well versed, this is a good book to have available. Granted, Dr. Millet is often controversial and in the short work sometimes leaves us with powerful affirmations for which we have not been given a lot of evidence, but this is perhaps more the problem of such books than it is of the author.
Despite its value in marketing, it is stretching it a bit to identify this book, and others like it, as being essential; fundamental might be a better word. This is an excellent narrative of the war and analysis of the literature, but there is neither the room, nor the breadth, to surpass the works of others, even those of Dr. Millett.
Nevertheless, I had purchased the book long before being asked to review it, found it to be well written and highly useful, and recommend it to you as being well worth the thankfully small sum being asked for it.