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The Korean War in World History

The Korean War in World History

Edited by William Stueck
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    The Korean War in World History
    Book Description:

    The Korean War in World History features the accomplishments of noted scholars over the last decade and lays the groundwork for the next generation of scholarship. These essays present the latest thinking on the Korean War, focusing on the relationship of one country to the war. William Stueck's introduction and conclusion link each essay to the rich historiography of the event and suggest the war's place within the history of the twentieth century. The Korean War had two very different faces. On one level the conflict was local, growing out of the internal conditions of Korea and fought almost entirely within the confines of a small Asian country located far from Europe. The fighting pitted Korean against Korean in a struggle to determine the balance of political power within the country. Yet the war had a huge impact on the international politics of the Cold War. Combat threatened to extend well beyond the peninsula, potentially igniting another global conflagration and leaving in its wake a much escalated arms race between the Western and Eastern blocs. The dynamics of that division remain today, threatening international peace and security in the twenty-first century. Contributors: Lloyd Gardner, Chen Jian, Allan R. Millett, Michael Schaller, and Kathryn Weathersby

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2665-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-vii)
    William Stueck
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    William Stueck

    The Korean War had two faces. One grew out of the internal conditions of Korea extending back to the period of Japanese rule. The war was fought almost entirely within the confines of a small Asian country located far from Europe, the geographical focal point of great power competition. Whether in casualties suffered, property destroyed, or lives disrupted, Koreans endured the greatest burden of the war. In one sense, the fighting pitted Korean against Korean in a struggle to determine the balance of political power within the country.

    Yet the conflict engaged Koreans with outsiders as well, and it had...

  6. Chapter 1 The Korean People: Missing in Action in the Misunderstood War, 1945–1954
    (pp. 13-60)
    Allan R. Millett

    In 1906 the Reverend George Trumbull Ladd, a graduate of Yale University and good citizen of New Haven, Connecticut, visited Japan for the third time. His host was Marquis Ito Hirobumi, the Resident-General of Japan for Korea, a protectorate since the Treaty of Portsmouth, which in September of the previous year had ended the Russo-Japanese war. Ito told Ladd that his only goal was to give “thirteen or fourteen millions of wretched people” good government and to protect “the Koreans against the evil influence and domination of foreign nations who cared only to exploit the country in their own selfish...

  7. Chapter 2 The Soviet Role in the Korean War: The State of Historical Knowledge
    (pp. 61-92)
    Kathryn Weathersby

    The release of a substantial body of Russian archival documents on the Korean War, a gradual and halting process begun in late 1991, has brought a sea change in our knowledge of the Soviet role in that pivotal conflict. Until this evidence became available, the discussion of Moscow’s part in the war focused almost exclusively on the question of the extent of Soviet involvement in the outbreak of the war on 25 June 1950. Most early accounts of the war assumed that North Korea could not have mounted the attack on South Korea without Moscow’s support, but revisionist literature of...

  8. Chapter 3 In the Name of Revolution: China’s Road to the Korean War Revisited
    (pp. 93-125)
    CHEN Jian

    When China entered the Korean War in October 1950, the newly established People’s Republic of China (PRC) had just celebrated its first anniversary. Mao Zedong’s revolutionary regime faced enormous challenges at home and abroad, having to deal with such problems as achieving political consolidation, rebuilding a war-shattered economy, and finishing reunification of the country by “liberating” Taiwan, which was still under the control of the Guomindang (GMD or the Nationalist party). Why then did the Beijing leadership decide to send troops to Korea? How was the decision made? What were the immediate and long-range causes leading to Beijing’s decision to...

  9. Chapter 4 Korean Borderlands: Imaginary Frontiers of the Cold War
    (pp. 126-144)
    Lloyd C. Gardner

    In February 1951, Secretary of State Dean Acheson responded to one of his critics, the father of a young marine serving in Korea. Acheson had many critics in those days. The marine’s father complained about the pointlessness of the war. Throughout the Korean War he was reviled as the man who lost China—much later he would be held out as an example of American cold war inflexibility. And today he is seen as the prime architect of a foreign policy that ended in the collapse of the Soviet Union. In many respects Korea was “Mr. Acheson’s War.” At the...

  10. Chapter 5 The Korean War: The Economic and Strategic Impact on Japan, 1950–1953
    (pp. 145-176)
    Michael Schaller

    For all the talk of a forgotten war, Korea is well remembered, at least among scholars of war and diplomacy. Understandably, most of the remembering has focused on the war’s impact on North and South Korea, the United States, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Soviet-American relations. All nations involved in the fighting suffered terribly and took actions that prolonged the conflict.

    Japan, however, proved an exception. For it, the Korean War proved an elixir that revitalized its economy, ended the American occupation, and shaped the peace and security treaties that continue to tether it to a Pacific Alliance...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 177-190)
    William Stueck

    In an earlier essay on Japan and the Korean War, Roger Dingman placed even greater emphasis than Schaller on ambiguity, but he also expanded the analysis by comparing the Korean War’s impact with that of the Pacific war it followed.¹ Dingman’s account provides a useful jumping off point for some concluding remarks, first, about the place of the Korean War in the international politics of the twentieth century and Korea’s internal history, second, about ongoing debates among historians regarding the war, and, third, about areas beckoning further research and analysis.

    Dingman points out that the Pacific war “transformed [the] …...

  12. Contributors
    (pp. 191-192)
  13. Index
    (pp. 193-203)