The Korean War: A History by Bruce CumingsA bracing account of a war that lingers in our collective memory as both ambiguous and unjustly ignored
For Americans, it was a discrete conflict lasting from 1950 to 1953 that has long been overshadowed by World War II, Vietnam, and the War on Terror. But as Bruce Cumings eloquently explains, for the Asian world the Korean War was a generations-long fight that still haunts contemporary events. And in a very real way, although its true roots and repercussions continue to be either misunderstood, forgotten, or willfully ignored, it is the war that helped form modern America’s relationship to the world.
With access to new evidence and secret materials from both here and abroad, including an archive of captured North Korean documents, Cumings reveals the war as it was actually fought. He describes its start as a civil war, preordained long before the first shots were fired in June 1950 by lingering fury over Japan’s occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. Cumings then shares the neglected history of America’s post–World War II occupation of Korea, the untold stories of bloody insurgencies and rebellions, and the powerful militaries organized and equipped by America and the Soviet Union in that divided land. He tells of the United States officially entering the action on the side of the South, and exposes as never before the appalling massacres and atrocities committed on all sides and the “oceans of napalm” dropped on the North by U.S. forces in a remarkably violent war that killed as many as four million Koreans, two thirds of whom were civilians.
In sobering detail, The Korean War chronicles a U.S. home front agitated by Joseph McCarthy, where absolutist conformity discouraged open inquiry and citizen dissent. Cumings incisively ties our current foreign policy back to Korea: an America with hundreds of permanent military bases abroad, a large standing army, and a permanent national security state at home, the ultimate result of a judicious and limited policy of containment evolving into an ongoing and seemingly endless global crusade.
Elegantly written and blisteringly honest, The Korean War is, like the war it illuminates, brief, devastating, and essential.
In June, as American troops struggled through the deadliest year yet in Afghanistan, the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War came and went with little fanfare. In his telling of a ferocious and forgotten war, Cumings gives us some much-needed perspective on U. Casus Belli. The roots of conflict date back to , when Japan made Korea a protectorate. The Japanese were oppressive rulers— between and July , they murdered about , Koreans suspected of being communist guerillas.
Six decades ago the Korean peninsula was ablaze. North Korea had invaded the South. But expectations that the war would end by Christmas were dashed when the People's Republic of China intervened. The conflict continued for another two and a half bloody years. Much has been written about the "forgotten war. The ROK is now a major player on the world stage with a population of 50 million and a large, innovative, export-oriented economy.
The Korean War: A History
Five months ago a South Korean warship was sunk, and a South Korean-led international investigative team concluded that North Korea was responsible. The United States and South Korea recently conducted large-scale naval exercises off the coasts of the Korean peninsula and Japan in a show of force. But he begins by mowing down David Halberstam. The book, he argues, makes all the classic mistakes of popular American historians about this little-understood war. The United States succeeded in containment, establishing the 2.
Welcome sign in sign up. You can enter multiple addresses separated by commas to send the article to a group; to send to recipients individually, enter just one address at a time. Good War Gone Bad from the October 25, issue. The American purpose in going to war was not to conquer North Korea, but to prevent it from conquering South Korea. The point matters. George H. Bush won the first Gulf War.