Since today is the 60th Anniversary of Kim-Il Sung kicking off his three-year adventure, I figure it's as good a time as any to plug Fehrenbach's classic.
I'm really impressed by how comprehensive this book is. You get a look at the strategic-level decision-making at President Truman's and General MacArthur's level, to the platoon leader freezing his ass off in the Chosin Reservoir, and everything in between.
SKO pointed out in the war movie thread the Korean War histories tend to be colored by the Vietnam experience. Thanks to excellent timing, this work avoids that. This book was written in 1963, with Korea far enough in the rear-view mirror for an analysis of the "big picture", but just before everything went apeshit in Southeast Asia.
As the subtitle indicates, the the book spends a lot of time discussing how fucked the Army was at the beginning of the Korean War, as well as the difficulty of a free society waging this kind of war. A free society can handle a "total war", one that mobilizes the entire populace in a grand campaign to eradicate some evil force or another, but has difficulty dealing with "frontier wars" that are necessarily fought by legions. Indeed, they chafe at the mere existence of legions.
Americans, even when they are proud of them, do not like their legions. They do not like to serve in them, nor even allow them to be what they must.
For legions have no ideological or spiritual home in the liberal society. The liberal society has no use or need for legions - as its prophets have long proclaimed.
Except in this world there are tigers.
The depictions of the war itself don't have much bearing in Iraq and Afghanistan (no COIN environment in Korea), but the overarching narrative (an unprepared Army adapts to the conditions of the war, all while dealing with backstabbing queerhomos at home) is surprisingly relevant. It helps warmongers like me understand why pansies like RV and Oleg insist on being so wrong about everything all the time.
Four stars. Check it out, or SKO's grandfather will come to your house and beat the shit out of you.