Tackling the Korean War with monumental research and laser-sharp reportage, Halberstam explores the untold heroism and pathos of the worst American military defeat since Little Big Horn--and the Washington politics that set it in motion.Tackling the Korean War with monumental research and laser-sharp reportage, Halberstam explores the untold heroism and pathos of the worst American military defeat since Little Big Horn--and the Washington politics that set it in motion.Read Less
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I first listened to this book on audio. It was very good so I bought it for my husband who likes history.
Jun 20, 2013
Well Written as Expected - Great Read
David Halberstam has approached the Korean War as he does all his subjects, with a thoroughness and subjective perspective that brings to life what happened and why. He intersperses personal narratives with the bigger picture, and is not afraid to call it like it was regarding MacArthur, the Republicans and their McCarthyism, Truman, Acheson, etc. Excellent read.
Oct 16, 2010
Great book and delivered on time and in great shape. Definitely recommend.
Sep 17, 2009
This is a magisterial treatment of the Korean war. It is well written, well researched, and spares no one in
pointing out judgmental errors. It also shows the
hardships endured and bravery demonstrated by those who had to fight the war. More, it describes the political uses made of the war by the politicians in Washington. Not only do I recommend this book, I have given it as a gift to others.
Sep 26, 2007
David Halberstam's final opus, a trimph of men!
"The Coldest Winter," David Halberstam's final journalistic tribute to heroes, is also a fitting tribute to the men of this forgotten war. Halberstam's lengthy career in journalism and as an author shows in his brilliant writing style that keeps you engrossed in every word. It is not surprising that someone who has written so much about Vietnam, would have a huge resource to draw upon in a work about the Korean War. The Coldest Winter is a story that needed telling, much the way Herodotus told of the men of Thermopylae or, more recently how Stephen Ambrose told of the men of Easy Company in "Band of Brothers." Halberstam understood well how most Americans ignore the events and outcome of the Korean Conflict; often, that part of history seems better left untold. The Coldest Winter tells this story and it's back stories and even it's substantial post-script. We mustn't forget that South Korea's success today owes a debt to the American and U.N. forces who fought there over half a century ago. What Halberstam also does in this book is point out the miserable failings of Generals like MacArthur, long-time sacred cows of the World Wars, whose hubris in later life jeopardized the legacy of any truly heroic deeds of their early careers. General Ned Almond is also lambasted for his stubbornness and poor leadership style, which Halberstam shows led to unnecessary losses of American and U.N. forces. While "Coldest Winter" is by no means concise as far as a historiography goes, Halberstam has revealed the machinations that led to the war and the egos that sustained it. This is not a blow-by-blow, battlefield-to-battlefield account of the Korean War, much of the latter part of the war is overlooked. But, it covers the broader picture and the political implications and ramifications of American civilian policy versus military instinct in the early 1950s, however poor it may have served us. The Coldest Winter is a hefty book, at over 650 pages, broken into eleven sections with over 50 chapters, but it reads as fast as it reads brilliant. This is the first Halberstam book I have read, I regret that it comes only after his passing. There were certainly more great works to come had he not met his untimely death. REVIEW EVERY BOOK YOU READ, OTHER READERS, PUBLISHERS AND AUTHORS DESERVE YOUR OPINIONS TOO.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-07-23 At the heart of David Halberstam's massive and powerful new history of the Korean War is a bloody, losing battle fought in November 1950 in the snow-covered mountains of North Korea by outnumbered American GIs and Marines against the Chinese Communist Army. Halberstam's villain is not North Korea's Kim Il Sung or China's Chairman Mao or even the Soviet Union's Josef Stalin, who pulled the strings. It's the legendary general Douglas MacArthur, the aging, arrogant, politically ambitious architect of what the author calls "the single greatest American military miscalculation of the war," MacArthur's decision "to go all the way to the Yalu [River] because he was sure the Chinese would not come in." Much of the story is familiar. What distinguishes this version by Halberstam (who died this year in a California auto crash) is his reportorial skill, honed in Vietnam in Pulitzer-winning dispatches to the New York Times. His pounding narrative, in which GIs and generals describe their coldest winter, whisks the reader along, even though we know the ending. Most Korean War scholars agree that MacArthur's sprint to the border of great China with a Siberian winter coming on resulted in a lethal nightmare. Though focused on that mountain battle, Halberstam's book covers the entire war, from the sudden dawn attack by Kim Il Sung's Soviet-backed North Koreans against the U.S.-trained South, on June 25, 1950, to its uneasy truce in 1953. It was a smallish war but a big Cold War story: Harry Truman, Stalin and Mao, Joe McCarthy and Eisenhower, George C. Marshall and Omar Bradley, among others, stride through it. A few quibbles: there were no B-17 bombers destroyed on Wake Island the day after Pearl Harbor, as Halberstam asserts, and Halberstam gives his minor characters too much attention. At first MacArthur did well, toughing out those early months when the first GIs sent in from cushy billets in occupied Japan were overwhelmed by Kim's rugged little peasant army. MacArthur's greatest gamble led to a marvelous turning point: the invasion at Inchon in September, when he outflanked the stunned Reds. After Inchon, the general headed north and his luck ran out. His sycophants, intelligence chief Willoughby and field commander Ned Almond, refused to believe battlefield evidence indicating the Chinese Communists had quietly infiltrated North Korea and were lying in wait. The Marines fought their way out as other units disintegrated. In the end, far too late, Truman sacked MacArthur. Alive with the voices of the men who fought, Halberstam's telling is a virtuoso work of history. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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