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108BOOK REVIEWS America's Parallel, by Michael C. Sandusky. Alexandria, Virginia: Old Dominion Press, 1983. Illustrated with cartoons, photographs, and maps, xxiv, 420 pp. $19.95. The roots of the Korean tragedy can be traced to the partition of the Korean peninsula in 1945, for this partition led to the emergence of two ideologically polarized states, which within a few years became embroiled in a fratricidal civil war. That three-year conflict not only devastated the peninsula, inflicted millions ofcasualties on the Korean people, and sowed seeds ofmutual distrust and enmity that have continued to bear fruit to this day, it also exacted a heavy price from the United States, China, and other nations in terms of lives, treasures, and opportunities lost. The inconclusiveness with which the conflict was brought to an end, the emergence of an entangling network of military alliances involving major powers, and the persistence of tensions in the peninsula mean that the consequences of the Korean partition have yet to be liquidated. All this underscores the importance of asking anew why and how the partition came about. Michael C. Sandusky, a senior civilian executive in the U.S. Department of the Army with many years of experience in Korea, sets out to examine the available evidence with the aim ofthrowing new light on the question. He was specifically interested in finding out how the decision was made to divide the Korean peninsula at the 38th parallel. The volume and variety ofsources, both primary and secondary, that he scrutinized are impressive. His listing of archival sources, manuscript collections, and official documents alone runs six pages in small print. In addition to a twenty-page bibliography, Sandusky provides bibliographic notes at the end of each chapter. He relies heavily on recently declassified archival material, the U.S. Department of State's series on Foreign Relations ofthe United States, and memoirs by key players, including Charles E. Bohlen, James F. Byrnes, W. Averill Harriman, and Harry S. Truman. On the basis of these sources, the author has put together a blow-by-blow account of what was done, when and by whom. Convinced that the decisions relating to Korea can only be understood in the context of the overall strategy of conducting World War II, Sandusky delves into the larger picture, providing illuminating details about wartime conferences among the Allied leaders, the evolution of strategic thinking in Washington, the clash of egos and interests among the players in Washington and the field, and related matters. Sandusky argues that events predating Pearl Harbor may have adversely affected the evolution of U.S. policy toward Korea, for a perception had emerged among Washington's policy elite that Korea was a weak country that had fallen prey to predatory colonial exploitation by its stronger and better organized neighbors , particularly Japan. Such a perception was reinforced by the self-seeking behavior and factional infighting ofKorean nationalists abroad. It was largely due to the low esteem in which Korean nationalists were held in Washington that the latter steadfastly adhered to the policy of not recognizing the Korean Provisional Government even after the outbreak of the war with Japan. In Sandusky's view, perhaps the single most important factor that set off the chain ofevents leading to the Korean partition was the ascendancy of a particular strategy in the conduct of the Pacific war. The strategy emerged in the context of BOOK REVIEWS109 President Franklin Roosevelt's decision to subordinate political objectives to the military objective of hastening the complete defeat of Japan with minimum losses in lives and treasures. Such an apolitical approach necessarily enlarged the discretion of military planners and commanders. From a purely military standpoint, two alternative strategies were available: one was to use China and Korea as the springboard for the invasion and defeat ofJapan, and the other was to use a chain of small Pacific islands as the launching pad for the invasion of Japan. Had the first strategy been adopted, the entire Korean peninsula would have come under American military occupation and its division obviated. However two things militated against this strategy. First, Chiang Kai-shek was proving to be more of a burden than a reliable ally; hence...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Pages
pp. 108-110
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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