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The Coldest Winter

America and the Korean War

Halberstam, David

(Book - 2007)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Coldest Winter
Baker & Taylor
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist explores the lesser-known elements of heroism and pathos that marked the Korean War, in a narrative successor to The Best and the Brightest that evaluates political decisions and miscalculations on both sides of the conflict.

"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.

& Taylor

Explores the lesser-known elements of heroism and pathos that marked the Korean War and evaluates political decisions and miscalculations on both sides of the conflict.

Publisher: New York : Hyperion, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781401300524
Characteristics: xi, 719 p. : maps ; 25 cm.
Alternate Title: America and the Korean War


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Jul 21, 2014
  • StarGladiator rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Having read all the notes, executive orders, presidential directives and legislation President Kennedy was involved with, I am certainly no fan of Halberstam and believe his book, The Best and the Brightest should not only not have been awarded a Pulitzer [how many good books really are, though?] but was garbage! Therefore, I am objectively saying that Halberstam pretty much gets his portrayal of MacArthur right - - a general who should have rightfully been courtmartialed for his participation in the slaughter of over 100 men, women and children at the Bonus March Camp except that his uncle was one of the richest men in America at that time, and a partner with J.P. Morgan. MacArthur was a classic American loser who caused the deaths of many. [Sally Denton's book, The Plots Against the President, provides the context of the atmosphere which allowed for, or led to, the Korean War and Eisenhower in the White House.]

Jul 21, 2014
  • athena14 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

His description of MacArthur's return to the USA (after being relieved of his command) is chilling. We came close to a coup.

Jun 05, 2013
  • wongsokguan rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Well written. A war, the US shouldn't have been in. MacArthur was oblivious to the soldiers under him. He saw himself as god and could do no wrong. Wrong he was.

Great writer. Good book. I'd say read that book if you want to understand what the Koean war was.

Jan 31, 2012
  • austinmurphy rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Halberstam is a great writer, and I really wanted to like this one. I think I just wanted to learn more about Korea itself and the people on the ground; the focus here is more on the commanders and political forces that shaped the War. The book is great for what it is, but wasn't quite what I was looking for.


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