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Korean War

The late David Halberstam was a journalist, heart and soul, with a distinctive way of writing history

DAVID HALBERSTAM had put the finishing touches on his final book, The Coldest Winter, in the spring of 2007, just five days before his tragic death in a car accident in California. Read more >>

Miscalculations and blunders by world leaders precipitated the Korean War 60 years ago

On its 60th anniversary, the Korean War looks much like Vietnam, a pointless conflict that gained nothing for those who began it: North Korea’s Kim Il-sung and South Korea’s Syngman Rhee, with the consent of the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin and China’s Mao Zedong. Yet it was far worse than that: The bloodletting in that corner of northeast Asia was an exercise in human folly that cost all sides in the fighting nearly 4 million lives lost, missing, and wounded, not to mention the devastation of the peninsula from Pusan in the south to the Yalu River in the north. Not a single northern or southern Korean city escaped the ravages wrought by modern warfare. Public buildings and private homes were turned into piles of rubble, while thousands of refugees fled from the scenes of battle. Read more >>

A search begun in a Washington, D.C., boardinghouse 140 years ago continues today as a $100-million-a-year effort to reunite the U.S. military and American families with their missing soldiers

Atop a half-mile-high mountain deep in the heart of the A Shau Valley in central Vietnam, a poisonous worm snake winds itself onto the edge of a spade. After a fleeting glance, the U.S. Read more >>

Powered flight was born exactly one hundred years ago. It changed everything, of course—but most of all, it changed how we wage war.

Walter Boyne’s résumé makes for unusual reading. He is the author of 42 books and one of the few people to have had bestsellers on both the fiction and the nonfiction lists of The New York Times. Read more >>
In “Elsenhower the Dove” (September), Douglas Brinkley writes of “the unnecessary cost of lives in the Korean War” and mentions Americans having been killed “in a useless conflict.” I suspect these are Brinkley’s sentiments and not Ike’s. Read more >>
In his letter to the readers of American Heritage in the November issue, the editor quotes author James Brady as saying, “Korea gave us ... Read more >>

TRUMAN DISMISSES MACARTHUR

On April 10 in Washington (April 11 in Asia), President Harry S. Truman removed Gen. Douglas MacArthur as the Army’s supreme Asian commander, replacing him with Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway. Read more >>

Fifty years ago in the frozen mountains of Korea, the Marines endured a campaign as grueling and heroic as any in history

Every editor i know has briskly astringent advice on how to handle any article: “Cut it in half, and it’ll be fine.” But this advice is just that—advice, which of course means that it is only given to somebody else. It’s always harder to jettison material from one’s own story. Read more >>

Gen. MacArthur designated the author as engineer of the Marine invasion at Wonsan, and told him to accompany the first wave. This would sharpen his mind, MacArthur said, "like an imminent hanging."

 

On June 27,1950, two days after the North Koreans invaded South Korea, I received a memorandum: Read more >>

The Korean conflict erupted fifty years ago this June. Many Americans still believe that it began in debacle (which is true) and ended in a humiliating compromise that changed nothing (which is not).

A young man’s journey from Brooklyn to the world, from boyhood to the glimmerings of maturity, from peace to war

We sat over beer on rough-hewn cedar benches at a big old table in the shade of trees that only California grows, young men talking away the hot November afternoon, a November such as we rarely had in the East, all of us in proper uniform, the forest green, and we were pared le Read more >>

A scholar searches across two centuries to discover the main engine of our government’s growth—and reaches a controversial conclusion

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1835 that America had no neighbors and hence no enemies. Read more >>

The half-remembered Korean conflict was full of surprises, and nearly all of them were unpleasant

Korea is in the news again, and it’s ugly news. North Korea may or may not have the capability to make nuclear weapons, and North Korea’s aging dictator, Kim Il Sung, is unwilling to let international inspectors find out. The United Nations is talking of sanctions. Read more >>

After every war in the nation’s history, the military has faced not only calls for demobilization but new challenges and new opportunities. It is happening again.

Not many people appreciate a military base closing. Like the shutting of a factory, it can devastate nearby towns, throwing thousands of people out of work. Merchants face losses and even bankruptcy as sales fall off. Read more >>

In an unpublicized and little known campaign, American and Russian pilots fought directly against each other south of the Yalu River.

In reading “America and Russia, Americans and Russians,” by John Lukacs in the February/March 1992 issue, I noted his statement that the two countries had never fought a war. Read more >>

A Memoir of Korea

by James Brady; Orion Books; 248 pages. Read more >>

A veteran reporter looks back to a time when the stakes were really high—and vet military men actually trusted newsmen.

One week in August 1942 several stories on the British war effort appeared on the wires of the Associated Press, written by an AP reporter based in London named Drew Middleton. Read more >>

Thirty years after judging Eisenhower to be among our worst Presidents, historians have now come around to the opinion most of their fellow Americans held right along.

Critics charged that Ike was spineless in his refusal to openly fight Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Read more >>

When the President fired the general, civilian control of the military faced its severest test in our history

AT 1:00 A.M. ON THE morning of April 11, 1951, a tense band of Washington reporters filed into the White House newsroom for an emergency press conference. Read more >>
On the Korean battlefield in the closing days of December 1950, there occurred the most remarkable display of leadership in the history of American arms—the resurrection of the 8th United States Army by its new commander, Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway. Read more >>

A soldier remembers the freezing, fearful retreat down the Korean Peninsula after the Chinese armies smashed across the border

THERE ARE places on this globe to which history can point and say of a people, a nation, or an empire: “This was their high-water mark. Read more >>

Ridgeway commanded the 82nd Airborne in World War II, became Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and Army Chief of Staff, and played important roles in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Our first Korean war, in 1871, was fought to open the Hermit Kingdom to Western trade. But the hermits wanted very much to be left alone

In the chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis there is a plaque: Read more >>