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BOOK REVIEWS121 personnel during these months as thoroughly as he does so much else. Also, he vacillates between a beliefthat the United States saw Korea as important from the beginning and a beliefthat this view emerged only slowly. In the end, we are not sure exactly what Cumings would have had us do (or not do), or exactly what he would have had the peninsula become (a communist—perhaps Titoist—state under Kim Il Sung?) His belief that Americans, shaped by different experiences, were blind to Korea's revolutionary needs "and therefore had little to offer a very different country, Korea" (p. 443) is persuasive until one reflects that after all, the United States did offer the Koreans something they wanted very much and never came near achieving on their own: the defeat ofJapan and their own liberation. It is not likely that the Japanese army in Korea would have agreed to surrender to Koreans who had not defeated it. Once in, were the Americans simply to walk out and leave the Soviets and Kim Il Sung to take over? Indeed, there would have been no Korean War then. The author does not give us his answer. In the end, after so much research, criticism, and excitement, he is coy. During the years covered by this work, Korea was one of the most exciting places in the world. A bland, cautious, jargonistic style would have traduced the Zeitgeist ofthese years in Korea. Cumings shows himselfa man caught in the drama ofthe age. He lacks the discipline and consistency of style to raise his writing to the level of art: he handles his prose rhythms less well than usual here, and signs of haste, impatience, and even shrillness appear near the end. In general though, Cumings catches his subject with vividness, conviction, pointedness, and an eye for characterization. Origins is outstanding for the breadth and thoroughness of its research, especially in the U.S. archives, and is amply furnished with (but not overwhelmed by) charts, photographs, a fine index, an elaborate bibliography, and over 100 pages of notes that are often as fascinating as the text itself. Origins is not a quiet, serene, or final book. It has a rambunctious feel to it. Bruce Cumings is a great shaker of trees, and over the years, as truth is pressed from these trees' fruit, Cumings will be remembered for the trees he shook and for the contagious zest with which he grappled with trunk and branch, source and thought. Origins is not a settled book. Yet it is very nearly a great one. Gregory Henderson The Free University, Berlin Journey to North Korea: Personal Perceptions. Edited by C.I. Eugene Kim and B. C. Koh. Berkeley, California: Institute of East Asian Studies, 1983. 152 pp. $10.00 In this slender volume, seven qualified Korean-American professors of political science tell us of their visits to North Korea in the summer of 1981. When our government, whose officials have never visited North Korea, spends more money in 122BOOK REVIEWS a given year to defend against North Korea's supposed aggressiveness than it has ever spent on any program ofAsian studies, reliable and critical accounts like these do much to close vital knowledge and judgmental gaps. The seven accounts are as consonant with each other as they are with my own perceptions as a visitor during that same summer. North Korea is hostile, but no visitor finds it as menacing as do those who cannot (or will not) visit it. Each visitor authors a chapter on a different area. Of these, the least new ground is broken by the general account of the trip by C. I. Eugene Kim and the brief concluding chapter by Kim and B. C. Koh; the latter chapter is couched in a dry, objective style that almost suggests lethargy and disinterest. B. C. Koh's own chapter provides a well-founded, well organized, and thoroughly objective study of that unique phenomenon, the Kim Il Sung personality cult and its suite, the holy succession to power of Kim's son, Kim Chong II. At times the legitimate emotions involved seem slighted when viewed from the standpoint of political science. Then...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Pages
pp. 121-123
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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