Roy Appleman's East of Chosin, first published in 1987, won acclaim from reviewers, readers, and veterans and their families. For the first time, there was one complete and accessible record of what happened to the army troops trapped east of the Chosin Reservoir during the first wintry blast of the Korean War. Based heavily on the author's interviews and correspondence with the survivors, East of Chosin provided some of those men with their first clue to the fate of fellow soldiers.
In November 1950, U.S. forces had pushed deep into North Korea. Unknown to them, Chinese troops well equipped for below-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions were pushing south. With the 1st Marine Division on the west side of the frozen Chosin Reservoir, the army's hastily assembled 31st Regimental Combat Team, 3,000 strong, advanced up the east side of the reservoir. Task Force Faith in the extreme northern position caught the surprise Chinese attack. With rifles and vehicles often immobilized in the cold and snow, the task force struggled to retreat through a tortuous mountain gauntlet of enemy fire. With truckloads of dead and wounded trapped along the road, a few of the 385 survivors trudged across the frozen reservoir to alert the marines to their plight.
©1987 Lt. Col. Roy E. Appleman (P)2010 Tantor
"A highly suspenseful account of a military catastrophe and...an inverted object lesson in field command under the worst possible conditions." (Publishers Weekly)
Avid "reader" of history - military and with a more British slant the past few years. Rarely read novels but Anthony Powell's DTMoTime zomg
I read this in print shortly after it came out and have re-read it in print at least once since. When I saw it on Audible, I just had to give it a listen hands and eye free to soak it in again and follow along with topo maps of the positions and terrain.
Excellent narration - as I imagine Appleman would have approved.
I'd say this is strictly for those intensely interested in the subject as it is steeped in details and backstory. I feel Appleman objectively presents the issues well to more than allow the reader to interpret themselves what went wrong as a lot just is not known or may never be. But plenty of dots to connect.
If I went back in time, I would have told Faith and MacClean to occupy and hold hill 1221 (as the Marine Lt. they were replacing intimated) with firm connectivity between the schoolhouse to the south and the inlet, but no further north of the inlet until the reinforcements arrived....which of course, they never did.
I have read many books about a the Korean War and the break out from the Chosin Res. but I have never read that O. P. Smith was to blame for the debacle. O. P. Smith saved the 1st Marine Division and in any case the 1st had a hard enough time saving itself. Poor dithering Leadership, poor training and discipline and poor communications exacerbated the Army's problems but MacArthur and Almond pushed the troops into untenable positions while refusing to believe intelligence being gathered in the field. A real thumbs down on this book.
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