The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War
--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 pivo ...more
Essentially, Halberstam launches a scathing and deserved attack on MacArthur and Gen. Ned Almond. From the very first sentence of Part 1, he blames MacArt ...more
Halberstam really stand ...more
Halberstam provides an illuminating and insightful portrait of Douglas MacArthur, who doesn’t come off too well as the narrative progresses. MacArthur had an amazing capacity for deception and a hug ...more
Halberstam is famous for his style, which really isn't a style at all. His writing has been called "workmanlike," which is to say it is skillful, but not tha ...more
My main issue with the book was that it is a book of big things, of gr ...more
The Coldest Winter
“The Coldest Winter” is a summary of the Korean war – the politics and people that took center stage in this conflict.
We see Douglas MacArthur at his most brilliant and his most hubris-filled moments.
We see China’s Mao flexing his muscles at the beginning of his long reign.
We see General Matthew Ridgway’s brilliant intervention in the terrible leadership vacuum plaguing the war.
But most heart-rending is the story of common soldiers who died heroically despite c ...more
Books about war don’t always rise to the level of compelling literary narrative, often because they are wedded to the intricacies of how specific battles are won and lost on specific pieces of terrain.
There’s some of that in The Coldest Winter, but Halberstam masterfully uses the crises for U.S./UN forces in Korea to support and drive his narrative--illustrating the brutal horror and folly that made this war one of the worst America ever fought.
He switches perspectives artfully: Sometimes he quo ...more
First let me give a synopsis. The book is about the first winter of the Korean War. The reason he only deals with six months of this war is that the rest of the conflict was not newsworthy. The first six months held all the surprises and contained all the real drama. ...more
From the closely-detailed battle stories, harrowing and grim, slaughter attributable in no small measure to the complacent defensive strategy of the war's start, we see just how much desper ...more
Previously, I only knew China had volunteered joining the North Korea to defend against the US army. Now, I know North Korea initiated the civil war and then two big nations joined the war as policemen. North Korea fought well in the beginning and then UN army beat them back to alm ...more
David Halberstam's last book (he was killed in a traffic accident shortly after completing it) focuses on the origins and the first few months (up to about the winter of 1951) of the Korean War. Although it has bit more purple prose than I could wish, I liked it. Kim Il Sunn, the North Korean leader installed by the Soviets when they occupied Korea north of the 38 parallel after the Second World War, seems to have been the person who initiated the war. Stalin, the Soviet dictator, went along wi...more
I have a bad or good habit, judge as you will, of pretty much always finishing a book once I've started it. This was tested sorely to the limits with David Halberstams "The Coldest Winter" which I had borrowed from my local Library in the hope of filling in the ample gaps in my knowledge of the Korean War. Instead, within a few score pages, it became apparent that the book had immense and ultimately fatal problems. The fact that there are 650+ pages meant that my reading ...more
Halberstam does a glorious job of pacing this book, explaining the stories behind the stories, and even being brutally honest about the arrogance and raci ...more
Halberstam graduated from Harvard University with a degree in journalism in 1955 and started his career writing for the Daily Times Leader in West Point, Mississippi. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, writing for ...more