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The Korean War

The Korean War: No Victors, No Vanquished

Stanley Sandler
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 344
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    The Korean War
    Book Description:

    The Korean War has been termed "The Forgotten War" or the "Unknown War." It is a conflict which never assumed the mythic character of the American Civil War or World War II. However, this book asserts, it would be impossible to understand the Cold War and indeed post 1945 global history without knowledge of the Korean War.

    Providing a history of the Korean peninsula before the war and including a detailed analysis of the fighting itself,The Korean Wargoes beyond the battlefield to deal with the war in the air, ground attack, and air evacuation. The study also evaluates the contributions of the UN naval forces, the impact of the war on various homefronts and issues such as defectors, opposition to the war, racial segregation and integration, POWs and the media.

    Recently-released Soviet documents are used to assess the role of China, the Soviet Union, North and South Korea and the allied forces in the conflict. This fascinating work offers a unique analysis of the Korean War and will be invaluable to students of twentieth-century history, particularly those concerned with American and Pacific history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5721-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Maps
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Chapter One Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    An outpouring of books, articles and film in the last decade as well as an impressive memorial on Washington, DC’s Mall have demonstrated that the Korean War (1950–53) is no longer quite “The Forgotten War”, “The Unknown War”, or “The War Before Vietnam”. But this conflict has never assumed the mythic character of, say, the American Civil War or the Second World War. Coming as it did after the clear-cut victory of the Allies over the unarguable evil of the Axis in the Second World War, the localized Korean War, with itsstatus quoarmistice, hardly seems an inspiring...

  6. Chapter Two History and background
    (pp. 17-46)

    On 25 June 1950, President Harry Truman, having opened the new Baltimore—Washington airport in one of the more meaningless routines inflicted on heads of state, was flying to Missouri for a weekend with his family. His recorded thoughts at the time were of domestic matters. In fact, in that halcyon month most prospects would seem to please the once much-underrated Middle America politician who less than two years earlier had pulled the political upset of the century, confounding the experts by winning a second political term in his own right. Those elections had also returned a Democratic majority in...

  7. Chapter Three Invasion and retreat
    (pp. 47-74)

    In the rain-soaked early hours of Sunday, 25 June 1950 (Korean time), tankled North Korean troops, preceded by a heavy artillery bombardment and supported by air power, launched a full-scale invasion of the Republic of Korea. To be fair, the DPRK interpretation should be given: “Using the Syngman Rhee puppet army in a frontal attack, US imperialism opened up, by deliberate provocation, a piratic aggressive war against the Korean people.”¹

    The invasion should have come as no real surprise to South Koreans or to the handful of Americans who followed Korean matters. But they were nonetheless caught completely off-guard, as...

  8. Chapter Four The Pusan Perimeter
    (pp. 75-84)

    From southwest to northeast, the US Army units and their KPA opponents along the Pusan Perimeter were as follows:

    Each US division was responsible for a front of from 32 to 64 kilometres, much more than laid out in contemporary US Army manuals.

    ROK Army divisions held the eastern half of the line, just above Waegwan.

    Total US ground units strength at this time stood at approximately 45,000 troops. The combat strength of the Army of the ROK at the same time numbered 47,000. The troop strength of the KPA probably stood then at no more than 70,000. This disparity...

  9. Chapter Five Inchon landings and pursuit northward
    (pp. 85-94)

    General MacArthur had planned to put his 1st Cavalry Division ashore at Inchon well behind KPA lines as early as 22 July. Here he was certainly guilty of the most gross optimism or ignorance, for such planning had to be abandoned on 10 July as US and ROK forces continued to stream southward in defeat. But also on the 10th, an undaunted MacArthur met with the commander of the Pacific Fleet Marine Force, Major General Oliver P. Smith. With Joint Chiefs of Staff approval, General Smith promised that the entire 1st Marine Division, veteran of many Pacific War contested landings,...

  10. Chapter Six The UNC drive north
    (pp. 95-116)

    With UNC forces firmly ashore at Inchon, their next mission was to retake Seoul. The North Koreans did attempt a hesitant counter-stroke on 16 September 1950. A column of 16 T-34-85 tanks moved down the main road to Inchon to interdict UNC forces; all the tanks were destroyed, half by Marine Corsair air attacks and the remainder by well-directed fire from Marine Pershing tanks in one of the few tank-to-tank clashes of the war. Early the following morning the North Korean air arm made one of its rare appearances when two Yak fighters surprised the UNC armada. They caught USN...

  11. Chapter Seven China’s intervention and the second great UN retreat
    (pp. 117-128)

    As the US Army liaison light aircraft dipped low over the wind-swept, snow-clad wastes of wintertime North Korea, relief suddenly became palpable in the cockpit. The long-overdue Army convoy had been spotted. It was easy enough to see, with its olive-drab trucks in startling contrast to the whiteness all about. Finally, it had broken out of the Chinese encirclement and was apparently now very slowly grinding its way along the rough trail to a safe haven. Perhaps too slowly. In fact, the convoy actually did not seem to be moving at all. And the snow, oddly enough, even lay on...

  12. Chapter Eight Chinese offensives and stabilization of the battlelines
    (pp. 129-148)

    To the west, Eighth Army, in considerably more disorder than X Corps in the northeast, retreated overland southward. On 5 December Pyongyang was evacuated and the city left in flames, but there is no evidence that the UNC deliberately fired the capital. Although the DPRJC capital is an inland city, much of the evacuation was nonetheless waterborne, by way of the Taedong River. There were numerous parallels with the Hungnam evacuation. Tens of thousands of refugees followed the UN forces. Some 30,000 proceeded south by sailboat. Communist pressure was even less than at Hungnam; in fact, after 30 November no...

  13. Chapter Nine The United Nations’ first war
    (pp. 149-170)

    The Korean War was the first and only protracted conflict conducted under the auspices of the UN. All other UN military ventures have been to separate belligerants and to maintain that separation. They have all been on a much smaller scale than the Korean conflict. In Korea the moral authority of the United Nations was employed to label the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea the aggressor and to rally member states either to drive the aggressors from the Republic of Korea or at least to support that effort. That commitment would endure for three years.

    The UN involvement with Korea...

  14. Chapter Ten The air and naval war
    (pp. 171-196)

    The air war in Korea was a juxtaposition of the old and the new. The latest models of jet fighter-interceptors clashed over the Yalu River, while over the land battlefields Second World War-design Mustang, Corsair, Skyraider, or Firefly propeller fighters shot up Communist trucks and bunkers. The US Air Force was almost completely unprepared for the anachronistic aspects of this conflict and had to re-learn its painfully acquired lessons of the last great war, lessons in close-air support, the impossibility of completely choking off enemy supplies, and the limited returns from the mass aerial bombing of cities.

    The reason for...

  15. Chapter Eleven Behind the lines
    (pp. 197-222)

    Among the most pressing problems behind the lines – and along them at times, for that matter – was that of civilian refugees. During the Second World War in Europe, the US and British Armies had developed an effective apparatus for taking care of these unfortunates. By the end of that war, some 25,000 US Army civil affairs personnel had been responsible for an incredible total of 80 million enemy and Allied civilians, either through the relief activities of what it termed civil affairs or through military government in the battle zone and in occupied enemy nations. Not one documented...

  16. Chapter Twelve Home fronts
    (pp. 223-238)

    The Korean War bore most harshly on the home fronts of North and South Korea. Nonetheless, the DPRK’s wartime experience remains closed to any objective analysis by the lack of open archives.

    In South Korea the problem is not so much a lack of documentation, although official accounts minimize the authoritarian nature of the Rhee regime and the sufferings of the South Koreans. South Korea was overpopulated even before the conflict erupted, as nearly two million refugees from the North had made their way to the ROK between 1945 and 1950. Although much of the ROK population seemed willing to...

  17. Chapter Thirteen Fighting and negotiating
    (pp. 239-262)

    By the early summer of 1951 even Mao conceded that the time for large-scale offensives, at least for the moment, was past and that his armies must go over to “piecemeal” warfare. He cabled Peng that

    The [immediate] past campaigns have shown that our enveloping, outflanking and penetrating operations at both campaign and battle levels have encountered such great difficulties that we were prevented from achieving the goals of completely annihilating several US divisions or even a whole US division or regiment.

    In an unconscious tribute to Ridgway’s reforms, Mao conceded that this failure came “because the American armed forces...

  18. Chapter Fourteen Conclusions
    (pp. 263-270)

    The Korean War itself was primarily a conventional conflict. Nuclear weapons, which featured so dominantly in those late 1940s’ “War of Tomorrow” scenarios, both official and popular, were, of course, not employed. Few, if any, “push-button” weapons were deployed. (Senator Brian McMahon remarked at the time that “We don’t even have the push-buttons for push-button war!”) In fact, the overwhelming bulk of the weapons employed in Korea were not only conventional on both sides, but most were left-overs from the Second World War. The American GI was issued the same fine M-l Garand semi-automatic rifle that his older brother or...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 271-278)
  20. Select bibliography
    (pp. 279-312)
  21. Chronology
    (pp. 313-322)
  22. Index
    (pp. 323-332)