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This Kind of War

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  986 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Updated with maps, photographs, and battlefield diagrams, this special fiftieth anniversary edition of the classic history of the Korean War is a dramatic and hard-hitting account of the conflict written from the perspective of those who fought it. Partly drawn from official records, operations journals, and histories, it is based largely on the compelling personal narrati ...more
Paperback, 50th Anniversary Edition, 540 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Potomac Books (first published 1963)
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Mar 19, 2012 Checkman rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with a general interest in military history or the Korean War.
Recommended to Checkman by: An instructor at Fort Knox in 1991.
T.R. Fehrenbach served in the Korean War as an officer in the U.S. Army. His experiences shaped this book. This Kind Of War is an account of the military aspects of the Korean War (1950-1953) with a fair amount of social commentary to go along with it. Fehrenbach addresses the conflict in American society between the social liberalism that the civilian world values and the more Spartan, totalitarian world that the military prefers. Fehrenbach comes down on the side of the military, but he makes ...more
Bryan  Jones
May 29, 2007 Bryan Jones rated it it was amazing
As a former Army officer, I have read many military history books; and I assert that "This Kind of War" is the best military history book I have ever read. As a retired Army officer and Korean War veteran writing approximately 10 - 15 years after the conflict, Fehrenbach does a masterful job in his account. He seamlessly is able to provide an comprehensive account of the conflict across the tactical, operational, and strategic spheres. He recounts the plight of the frozen foot soldier and marine ...more
Nov 18, 2008 William rated it liked it

T.R. Fehrenbach's "This Kind of War" is more of a "U.S. Army" history of the Korean War. It is long on tactical/operational detail, placing less stress on politics, diplomacy and grand strategy surrounding the war.

Ferhenbach has an ax to grind, but it is strictly professional. He despairs over the state of the army at the start of the war, unprepared, under-equipped and under-trained, then analyzes and chronicles how the force hardened after being bloodied. The author accepts reality, albeit wi
Aug 01, 2013 S. rated it really liked it
Shelves: hookah
times change and so do our expectations and language. there's some 1920s era world history free ebook floating around, and although the work is completely readable, the modern reader is somewhat shocked to see written without any sense of irony

the Negro should blame himself for his plight, for nations must organize themselves first...

as if, of course, Africans or African-Americans are one person, 'the Negro...'

T.R. Fehrenbach wrote his classic 1961 Korean War history just before the 60s sexual a
Dec 16, 2015 Bruce rated it liked it
T.R. Fehrenbach, who died just two years ago, was an American historian and journalist who served in the Korean War and published this history of that war in 1963. It is an interesting work that provides an historical overview of the conflict. The 50th anniversary edition includes very helpful maps without which a reader unfamiliar with events might easily be lost. The period covered is from 1950-1953, from the initial attacks from northern Korea into the south until the ceasefire and armistice. ...more
Soap box: Fehrenbach is a huge fan of General McArthur and is cutting him all kinds of slack for his decisions which cost UN soldiers lives and suffering and prolonged the war. He's even made statements about how it's Truman's fault for not giving McArthur clearer instructions! I'm all but pulling my hair out, I'm so frustrated with this one-sided history. Do I finish the book? It's hard for me to deliberately not finish a book, and this is almost like a train wreck... where you close your eyes ...more
May 01, 2008 Kyle rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
There's lots of sentimental bullshit about lions and legions and stoic defense of the frontiers and the necessity of harsh, just, professional men to do unspeakable things in the service of polite, gentle folk, which is unfortunate because on balance it's a good book. This stuff is partially redeemed by truly incisive analysis of the war effort and a ground-level perspective. Fehrenbach frequently summarizes entire operations not by a bloodless, detached narration of bold arrows moving over topo ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Andre rated it it was amazing
Great book about the Korean War. I read this book because while in the Marines one of my commanding officers gave me an copy of chapter 25, entitled, Proud Legions. That chapter is still my favorite in the book because it talks about the valor and fighting ability of the Marine Corps compared to other fighting units.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about the book is that it taught me a lot about the Korean war. I drew a lot of parallels between the war in Iraq and the Korean war. If you read t
Lucas Mackey
Sep 26, 2014 Lucas Mackey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wish I knew all this sooner.

I knew very little about the Korean War. I've studied both World Wars, Vietnam, and the Cold War in general, but Korea hardly ever comes up. I never realized how strong an effect Korea had on American policy until now. If you are interested in Foreign policy and the Cold War, I highly recommend learning about this chapter in history (if not from Fehrenbach, then from somewhere).

The writing itself is somewhat heavy on military details and will likely be difficult for s
Mar 03, 2010 Kendra rated it really liked it
I didn't know much about the Korean War before reading this book. Written a decade after the armistice, it offered not only details of the battles, but also the effect the end of WWII had on American public opinion toward war (particularly limited action) and the size and training of the standing military, as well as the politics of containment that directed decisions affecting action in the field. The book, written in 1963, has a definite point of view that "soft, liberal" American society got ...more
Jun 22, 2014 Keith rated it it was amazing
Fehrenbach does not technically write a history of the Korean war, although his book is historically accurate. Rather, through following the actions of numerous small units, he creates a gripping story of the war as seen by the man on the ground and uses those snapshots to lead the reader from the initial invasion to Busan, to Panmunjom, and on through the peace talks. What sets This Kind of War apart is the social and political commentary that Fehrenbach regularly engages in. By keeping the rea ...more
Apr 27, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's what they didn't teach us

As a child of the 60s, you would think that I would have learned about the Korean War in school. It wasn't that long ago and the lessons would have been very useful, especially in light of the wars to come afterwards. Sadly, it wasn't. I really liked this book. It seemed to present a balanced view of the events. It also didn't hold back when talking about the dying and maiming that took place. I could go on about the waste of lives that comes from war, but this is a
Mike Kershaw
Nov 29, 2012 Mike Kershaw rated it it was amazing
Subtitled ‘A Study in Unpreparedness’. Fehrenbach has a point to make about how the once most powerful Army in the world was brought literally to its knees by first the North Koreans and then the Chinese Communists and how it rose to the occasion each time. It is, deservedly, the classic book of the Korean War and widely read for good reasons. Fehrenbach combines an easy writing style, almost Cornelius Ryan-like and focused analysis on the war at its lowest level. Almost every officer who goes t ...more
Feb 28, 2008 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Kind of War is powerful, insightful, and all too prophetic in its account of Western idealism. Very few books have moved me, challenged my political beliefs, and shaken my foundations in the way that this one has. Not for everyone, I would recommend this book to those who question the role of the military in modern society, and those who believe that wars should be fought to win. This Kind of War challenges the lay person's perspective upon armed conflict, as well as those espoused by liber ...more
Sep 01, 2014 Matthew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Now I think I know why they call Korea the forgotten war.

This Kind of War showed flashes of brilliance in its insightful commentary and and uncannily accurate predictions. Unfortunately much of Fehrenbach's conclusions were redundant and his accounts of events of the war itself often lacked the detail that makes military history so fascinating.
Jan 04, 2009 John added it
The first US "police action" war where we made the error of mistaking a regional conflict for the grand struggle with world communism. Supported a corrupt regime, thought air power and technological superiority would win it, and underestimated our enemy. Sound like Vietnam?
Jun 29, 2014 Kent rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was enticed by Collin Powell's words. Unfortunately, the book was written in 1962. There wasn't anything really new here, for me. The BIGGEST problem was the poor editing. Grammer/spelling issues at a rate of 3 to 4 per paragraph made understanding very difficult.
Jan 23, 2017 Richard rated it really liked it
This is a well-written and detailed military history of the Korea War; however, I have two points of caution for any perspective readers.
First, this book provides a lot of information. This is not simply a broad overview. Instead, it dives into a lot of specific engagements of individual military units. If this is what a reader is looking for, then it is a very worthwhile book to read. I ended up only reading the first 100 pages, because it was simply more in-depth than I wanted.
Second, it is pr
Feb 20, 2017 Dirk rated it liked it
Extremely detailed, all encompassing, gives the whole story on the Korean War and explains the why behind it. At some points, this book is as frustrating to read as the conflict itself
William Corkery
Dec 16, 2016 William Corkery rated it it was amazing
Wonderful overview of the Korean war and the lessons we all should draw from it.
Nov 10, 2013 Todd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Often hailed as one of the best histories of the Korean War, it really is a pretty good read. The author switches between the "big picture" and tactical accounts throughout. His portrayals of individual battles are probably enough to give the casual reader an idea of what the fighting was like at any one time and place in the conflict, but he does not provide detailed accounts of every action in every battle.

Fehrenbach likes to use Korean words for some things, as well as making regional refere
Dec 27, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite all time book - have read it a couple times. Most frustrating part for me was hearing how many times U.S. soldiers dropped their weapons and ran. A good reminder that we always must be ready for war.
Frank Theising
Aug 23, 2015 Frank Theising rated it liked it
Published in 1963 and originally subtitled “A Study in Unpreparedness,” This Kind of War laments the pitiful state of the US Army at the outset of the war. Fehrenbach makes some pretty broad accusations about the softness of American soldiers. Sent in to conduct a “police action” they inevitably had to learn the lessons of war the hard way. He lays the blame for this on the breakdown of the dichotomy between liberal democracy and the heretofore isolated military. In other words, American society ...more
Dave Biggus
Mar 05, 2016 Dave Biggus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew close to nothing about the Korean War before reading this; now I know so much more. This is written largely from a military point of view: hills taken, generals and commanders involved, geography defended. But included also is the viewpoint of the author T.R. Fehrenbach as to what it all means. Unfortunately for this conflict, which expended more U.S. ammunition than all of WWII, and cost a horrifying number of lives of soldiers and civilians (over 50,000 U.S. killed, over two million Kor ...more
Matt Ely
Jun 02, 2016 Matt Ely rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
4.5, rounded up for the potency of its prescience.

I'll start with the negatives. The book was published in the early 1960's, so it doesn't quite read the way a more modern book would. Its citations are mostly implied, and the bibliography and end notes are largely absent.

It is largely an amalgamation of first person accounts, translated to the third person by the author. If you like that style, good, because it's the whole book.

There are also a few sections where the author describes his eval
Bas Kreuger
Sep 27, 2014 Bas Kreuger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really great book on a frustrating war (but aren't all wars just that?). The clear cut goal of stopping the North Korean Army (NKA) from overrunning the whole of Korea had been achieved by the defense of Pusang and the brilliant invasion at Inchon, followed by the march to the Yalu. When the Chinese (Peoples Republic of China Army, PRCA) intervened, pushed back the Allies to the 38th parallel and then bogged down, this war got a strange dynamic of continued locally heavy fighting for worthless t ...more
Feb 24, 2015 Andy rated it it was amazing
This guy hates communists like I pretend to hate communists: a whole lot. It's actually a very good history of the Korean War. Since it was published in 1963, Fehrenbach offers a much greater sense of the moment than some latter day, albeit excellent in their own right, histories of this conflict like Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter;" I had a much stronger sense of how a rational, informed observer saw the course of events in 1963. I think that's part of the reason MacArthur comes out looking a ...more
Justin Boden
May 03, 2013 Justin Boden rated it really liked it
This is very much the Korean War from the perspective of the Americans, which is forgivable in the sense that we didn't have access to the Russian and Chinese sources back in 1963. Fehrenbach is fond of pontificating on the nature of the soldier ("a soldier is not a cypher," he says only 14 times) and how the armies of democratic countries are generally unprepared for war. I could have done with less of that, personally, but I'm sure there are armchair generals who would find these essays medita ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it
This is my first read on the Korean War. I think the author makes a lot of valuable points about current (at the time) political and military thinking that gravely affected the conduct of the war. It was very interesting to hear his thoughts on how Americans' desire to reduce the military and avoid war, remembering this conflict occurred less than 5 years after the end of WWII, resulted in lowered standards of admission into the military and less rigorous training within the military and how tha ...more
I find the period between WWII and the start of the American troop deployments to Vietnam fascinating. So much history between Europe and Asia; between the West and the Communist Block. I also find Korea rarely covered and for that reason, I regularly grab a book on the subject, albeit not often enough.

Fehrenbach covered the ground war of Korea well. He started with the Japanese occupation and left with the repatriation of POWS. Some books cover the early part of the war and gloss over the hill
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Theodore Reed Fehrenbach, Jr. was an American historian, columnist, and the former head of the Texas Historical Commission (1987-1991). He graduated from Princeton University in 1947, and had published more than twenty books, including the best seller Lone Star: A History of Texas and Texans and This Kind of War, about the Korean War.

Although he served as a U.S. Army officer during the Korean War,
More about T.R. Fehrenbach...

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“Americans in 1950 rediscovered something that since Hiroshima they had forgotten: you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.” 3 likes
“A nation that does not prepare for all the forms of war should then renounce the use of war in national policy. A people that does not prepare to fight should then be morally prepared to surrender. To fail to prepare soldiers and citizens for limited, bloody ground action, and then to engage in it, is folly verging on the criminal.” 2 likes
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