Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cumings' Korean War

I finished reading Bruce Cumings' Korean War this week.  This book is a thoughtful retrospective on what the Korean War means to Korea and the vast misconceptions that still define the conflict in the American consciousness.  It is not for the faint of heart, Cumings does not shy away from gory detail when he wants to make a point.  His views of North Korea are considerably more sympathetic than pretty much any other American author.  That was in fact why I picked up the book, dissidents may be right or wrong but they're almost always interesting.  I was not disappointed. 

Cumings describes a conflict that anticipates Iraq as much as it does Vietnam.  An ignorant and ill-prepared military occupation quickly followed by guerilla warfare, rampant atrocities against civilians committed by American troops and the Korean forces they empowered, and driving it all an arrogant belief in the inerrancy of American military power.  It is tragic that Korea is our forgotten war, there is a hell of a lot to learn in it.

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