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The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War

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David Halberstam

14 Hours 0 Minutes

Hachette Book Group USA

September 2007

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Audio Book Summary

'In a grand gesture of reclamation and remembrance, Mr. Halberstam has brought the war back home.'

The New York Times

David Halberstam's magisterial and thrilling The Best and the Brightest was the defining book about the Vietnam conflict. More than three decades later, Halberstam used his unrivaled research and formidable journalistic skills to shed light on another pivotal moment in our history: the Korean War. Halberstam considered The Coldest Winter his most accomplished work, the culmination of forty-five years of writing about America's postwar foreign policy.

Halberstam gives us a masterful narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides. He charts the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu River and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides astonishingly vivid and nuanced portraits of all the major figures--Eisenhower, Truman, Acheson, Kim, and Mao, and Generals MacArthur, Almond, and Ridgway. At the same time, Halberstam provides us with his trademark highly evocative narrative journalism, chronicling the crucial battles with reportage of the highest order. As ever, Halberstam was concerned with the extraordinary courage and resolve of people asked to bear an extraordinary burden.

The Coldest Winter is contemporary history in its most literary and luminescent form, providing crucial perspective on every war America has been involved in since. It is a book that Halberstam first decided to write more than thirty years ago and that took him nearly ten years to complete. It stands as a lasting testament to one of the greatest journalists and historians of our time, and to the fighting men whose heroism it chronicles.

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Reviews

  • Jeff G.

    A fascinating, insightful and informative look into America's "forgotten" and brutal war against communist powers. It fully explained how McArthur went from "hero" at Incheon to being replaced by Gen. Ridgeway for insubordination. The book provides detailed information about China's war strategy at that time and how different it was from the way that America conducted their war campaigns. Wedged between WWII and Vietnam, the Korean War was often referred to as a "police action" but through this book, I learned about an enormous loss of life, on both sides, and fighting that occurred in brutal weather and mountainous conditions. I sought out this book in hopes that I could learn about this war that predates me in my lifetime. It did that very well and I could've listened for another 30 hours.

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