The War for Korea, 1950-1951: They Came from the North.

Author:Lefebvre, Stephane
Position:Book review
 
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The War for Korea, 1950-1951: They Came from the North. By Allan R. Millett. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010. Maps. Illustrations. Photographs. Notes. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xx, 644. $45.00 ISBN-13: 978-0-7006-17098

The Korean conflict is often forgotten in the minds of Americans and glossed over in their history classes. Hopefully, Dr. Millett's magisterial contribution will help turn the tide in favor of renewed interest in its study. Highly scholarly and exact in both tone and form, Millett has written what is likely to be the definitive history of the war for some years to come. In this volume, the second of a trilogy, he takes the reader from the invasion of the South by the North in June 1950 to MacArthur's relief in April 1951 and the Fifth Offensive by Chinese and North Koreans of the following month. In doing so, he builds a solid evidentiary base to support his narrative by methodically and rigorously combing through a wealth of U.S. and foreign archival materials, memoirs, books, and other documents. This phase of the overall Korean conflict was, from a military point of view, certainly the most active and costly in human lives. Several aspects of Millett's narrative deserve mention:

The role intelligence played in this phase of the conflict, in particular through interactions that intelligence staffs had with one another and, more importantly, with the commanders of Eighth Army (Walker) and Far East Command (MacArthur). How intelligence really played out reinforced, in my opinion, the notion that it was very much a human activity influenced by the preferences, biases, and personalities of all involved. This is well illustrated by Millett's discussion of the effort by the various intelligence staffs to pinpoint when and where the offensive would start, and later on whether China and the Soviet Union would intervene.

While the narrative largely focuses on the ground war and predominantly unfolds from a U.S. perspective, it always situates developments on the ground into their wider strategic context, and looks at their effects on the U.S. and its allies, as well as on the North Koreans, the Chinese...

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