Friday, May 23, 2014

eBook Review: This Kind of War

T. R. FehrenbachThis Kind of War

  • Product Details

    • File Size: 969 KB
    • Print Length: 540 pages
    • Publisher: Open Road Media; 50th Anniversary edition (April 1, 2014) (I downloaded my copy 18 March 2013.)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English 
    • ASIN: B00J3EU6IK 
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars (109 customer reviews)
    • Price: $2.99 (I paid $8.21 more than a year ago. At $8.21, it was a good value. At $2.99, it is a bargain.)

1. Short review:  *:) happy (Amazon rating: 4 out of 5 stars -- I like it. My edition is riddled with typos, obvious missing text, and textual transpositions. I have reports that those have been fixed. Were all the rampant copyreading errors fixed, I would give This Kind of War 5 stars. Perhaps I shall try another download to see if these errors have been fixed.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: Account of the American military and concomitant political experience in Korea. TRF includes accounts of the Brits and the Turks and mentions the French battalion, but his emphasis is on the American history. At the end, TRF expounds his views on the meaning of the Korean War to the US and on the use of citizen soldiers versus legionnaires. I found these instructive.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? A roller-coaster.
Good value for the money I paid. Do-not-miss value at the current price.

2.2. What I did not like: My edition is riddled with typos, obvious missing text, and textual transpositions. I have reports that those have been fixed.
     I see these problems as an unforgivable sin of traditional publishers. Rather than pay for competent copyreaders, they OCR-scan old books to produce a digital copy and upload that as an ebook. The evidence is that they give that copy no copyreading nor editing.
     This Kind of War was first published in 1963 by MacMillanMacMillan died in 2001. The current incarnation is a shell owned by Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. The e-version of This Kind of War is published by Open Road Media.  How Open Road came by the rights to This Kind of War I don't know, but I would be stunned to discover that they have no connection to Holtzbrinck.
     I have found the same problems with other print books that have been scanned to produce an e-version; for example, The Angel of Zin.
     In my opinion, traditional publishers are using readers as unpaid copyreaders.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Americans with an interest in history.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  Yes, if the child is an American with an interest in history.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? I will buy anything written by TRF. With a caveat. Given the terrible conversion from print to ebook, I am decidedly disinterested in buying anything published by Open Road.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell:
     Given that this is a history, there should be no plot, but there are at least four.
     The first third of the book could be entitled The Adventures of Frank Muñoz in Korea. FM leads George Company in one desperate action after another, fighting and surviving and sometimes winning during the first year of the war.
     Sergeant Schlichter's experience as a POW is another story. He promised his wife he would return. The Army reported him MIA and presumed dead to his wife and offered her his death benefits. She refused them. Schlichter, a medic, administered care to POWs until the end. He was in the last group that was repatriated.
     The North Korean and Chinese POWs were kept on Geoje Island in South Korea. 132,000 of them in one camp. Hard-core Communists controlled the POW chain of command. They received orders from Peking to make trouble to be used for propaganda purposes. They kidnapped an American brigadier general. LtGen Mark Clark sent BGen Haydon Boatner to recover the general and restore order to the camp. Boatner accepted the command on the condition that he had a free hand to deal with the POWs as he saw fit and to exclude the press from the island. Clark agreed. Boatner built a new camp and 14 June 1952 moved the POWs to it with combat troops armed with bayonets (their rifle magazines were empty). The POWs resisted with spears. Some POWs died in the melee. Some GIs were wounded but none were killed. Boatner succeeded in breaking the back of the Communist resistance on Geoje. Found among the effects in the old POW barracks were plans for a general POW uprising and escape scheduled for 22 June 1952.
     Most of the UN forces in Korea were ROK Army. TRF admits that but never covers any ROK Army victory; he only covers their defeats. He does write well of the Brits in action and of the Turks in captivity. He mentions the French battalion (wanna bet they were Foreign Legion?) but never gives any details of them in action.
     For the first year the Korean War was one of movement. The NKPA invasion bore a striking resemblance to the Hindenburg Offensive on the Western Front in the spring of 1918. The invasion at Inchon and the UN drive to the Yalu River were a replay of MacArthur's campaign along the northern shore of New Guinea. With the start of peace talks, the front stagnated, and the troops entrenched. From June 1951 to the armistice in August 1953, the Korean War resembled Verdun in 1916.
     Factoid: The US Army expended more artillery shells in the Korean War than in World War II.
 2.7. Other:
     In the Korean War, American politicians -- that is, Harry Truman -- tried to use American citizen soldiers as legionnaires. When the war was fought to expel the Communists from Korea, the Americans did well. When their direction changed and they fought to contain the Communists, morale suffered. You can motivate men to die for victory but not for stalemate.

     Americans have never come to grips with the Korean War. They understand the Inchon Landings and the heroism of the Marines at Chosin Reservoir  but they do not understand the lack of victory. TRF treats with this in a persuasive argument that Americans see war as a crusade, not as an instrument of gov't policy.

     TRF himself fought in Korea but never mentions that.

     My father-in-law fought in the Korean War. Not with the US Army. With the ROK Army. My wife is Korean. Not Korean-American.
     My father-in-law was proud of his service. He always smiled when I visited him. He died last year. Two days before his death, I ate with him. We had octopus. He knew octopus is my favorite.
     Korean Memorial Day is 6 June. My wife and I plan to visit her father's ashes and venerate his memory.


2.8. Links: Theodore Reed Fehrenbach, Jr.

2.9. Buy the book:  This Kind of War

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