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Colder Than Hell: A Marine Rifle Company at Chosin Reservoir
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Colder Than Hell: A Marine Rifle Company at Chosin Reservoir

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  325 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
"A MUST READ . . . This book [is] one of the best on that war in Korea. . . . A wonderful account of common, decent men in desperate action."

During the early, uncertain days of the Korean War, World War II veteran and company lieutenant Joe Owen saw firsthand how the hastily assembled mix of some two hundred regulars and raw reservists hardened into a superb M
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 30th 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published 1996)
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Colder Than Hell: A Marine Rifle Company at Chosin Reservoir gets 3 Stars for its no-nonsense portrayal of a Marine Rifle Company in the first 5 months of the Korean War. The title is a bit misleading because the Chosin Reservoir only fills the last quarter of the book. It is really a tale of the mortar section of B Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment from August to December 1950. A bunch of ill-trained reservists and a couple regular Marines come together, quickly train up at Camp Pendl ...more
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent first-hand account of Marine Lt. Joseph Owen's combat experience during the Korean War.
One of the first Marine units to be sent to Korea (and full of newbies), Baker 1/7 (7th Marines, 1st Battalion, Company B), had a rough start but pulled together into a superb fighting unit. Lt. Owen recounts the extreme difficulties and fighting they endured against the Chinese the last few months of the year 1950. Temperatures 25 below zero at night, hot during the day, food rations from 1944, a f
Cody Morris
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A glimpse into the sheer brutality of "the forgotten war"

Traces the path of baker 1/7 from an undisciplined and untrained newly constituted unit, to men of extraordinary heroism and endurance as they are ravaged by -30 weather and the horses of Chinese. Outnumbered and equipped but never outfought, these men have left the onus for us all to live up to their legacy.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is an amazing story - makes you realize just what a mess Korea was.
Deanna K.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was given this to read in a university history course and wish I could remember that instructor's name now to thank him again. This soldier's point of view from the ground during the Korean War is simple, informative, entertaining, and personable. You feel like you're there yet removed and looking in from the outside at the same time. Wonderfully done.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
It’s a page-turner that you will not want to put down. Told from the perspective of second lieutenant Joseph Owens, readers will gain a first hand knowledge of what war was like during the Korean War.

Starting in California, Owen’s and his mix of 200 regulars and reserves spend a few vigorous weeks training to prepare for the war in Korea. Over a span of six months Owen watches his young men harden into a true Marine rifle company. They endure combat through the hot and filthy rice paddies of Kor
David Perrin
Nov 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has been one of my FAVORITE military history books. A detailed personal account, blow by blow at the platoon/squad level in the Korean War.

I admit I didn't know much about the Korean conflict and wanted to know more. I consider it our duty as Americans to know more about all those that have served and died.

This story grips you from the spin up of training in 1950 at Camp Le Jeune NC, on to Camp Pendleton in California, with grueling 120lbs of gear on your back running up the hills until yo
Aubrey Dustin
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a great read. It kept my attention and was full of great examples of leadership and gallantry. One valuable lesson taught here is one our nation and particularly our politicians need right now. There are huge plans underway to drastically shrink our military and revoke funding that is needed to maintain our military's readiness. This book is the story of the impact policies like these can have. Only 5 years after the victories...military triumph of WWII. The leaders in this book found t ...more
David Groves
Sep 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the only book about the Korean War that I've read so far that was authored by an actual participant. It must have been written a year or two after the event, because it contains so much detail.

It chronicles the journey taken by the 5th Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton in August, 1950, to the end of the tragiheroic Chosin Reservoir campaign in December, 1950. Many soldiers were killed or wounded in that short four-month period, and things happened that those soldiers would never forge
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cold-war
Absolutely riveting first hand account of one 2nd Lt and his platoon/company fight from their call up in the US to the frozen hell of the Chosin Reservoir. Roughly 225 men landed, 27 walked down after the campaign was over. As most first hand accounts go the book wont give you much idea of the strategic overview of the campaign, but this cant be held against it as it is not that genre of book. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the Chosin Campaign or first hand Korean war accounts to lea ...more
Carol Storm
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Superb look at Marines in combat, Korean War Era.

Joseph Owen was a young career Marine officer when the Korean War broke out in 1950. Overnight, the Marine Corps had to go from peacetime to wartime, with experienced officers and NCO's in short supply. This book is about how one young officer did the impossible in a matter of weeks, taking a team of untried kids, broken down clerks, and reservists who had been out of uniform for years, and making them into a mortar team able to turn the tide in K
Jan 07, 2013 added it
Completely resonated with me as a Marine Officer. I learned how to conduct myself and felt I was able to relate to the events in the book because of the training I am currently going through. It also made me feel like a whimp for ever being cold when it's 30* and not -30* outside while sleeping in the field. Excellent complement to my job.
Jeff W.
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A first class account of an oft forgotten war. It is a first hand account told by the Second Lt. of a U.S. Marine company in Korea. Fascinating and poignant, it is very insightful joining the company from training the unprepared reservists to their march out from Chosin. A very interesting and engrossing read, I found the book read quickly as well.
Tom Schulte
A crisp telling of the author's time against North Korean and Chinese troops in the bitter, below zero weather of the Korean conflict. The author recounts examples where grit and resolve and care for one's foxhold buddy overcame lack of prepartion, overwhelming odds and all too frequent dud explosives.
Douglas E Dorain
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Read for anyone, but a great read for us old Jarheads and Our Corpsman.

I liked the way the writer was up front and honest about his fear, lack of experience and how he learned to really respect the enlisted Marines. The book mostly covers the company and below level, therefore not boring the reader with military politics and generals pillow talk.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is pretty amazing, as a Marine with combat experience in Iraq I still can't wrap my head around the things they went through. Very well written, easy to follow and you really feel like you know the men.

The 0331 [machine gunners] platoon commander - Chew-Een Lee recently passed away which is what brought this book to my attention.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been on a military history kick lately, and this was the first book I ever read about the Korean war. I've been cold on a mountain top, but these men fought tooth and nail to get to the tops and hold them from waves of enemy with next to nothing which is very admirable and awe inspiring.
Craig Scanlan
A great read thru to the end, and a great look at Marines caught in hell, giving a great "down in the shit" view of Chosin, which I'd only really had an overall picture of.

The book probably deserves four stars, but I've probably read too many solider memoirs.

I'd give it a 3.5 if I could...
Matt Harper
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book

The Korean War, the forgotten war, in my opinion a greater struggle that what is commonly known. Horrible weather, poor leadership from mcarthur and lack of proper gear. This book captures to condition of the brave marines who fought and died
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book. I read it for my IRP project a couple years ago. My teacher was suprised that I was reading a book like this. It was a quick read and kept me interested. Very fast pased.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent war story for anyone wishing to understand what the Marines went through during the Korean War.
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, adventure
Korea. What a tough, tough conflict. This is a candid story told by a junior officer in the Marines. It's a testimony to the amazing strength and endurance of humans in conditions beyond austere.
Mike Stanley
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Amazing account. I couldn't last 24 hours in the real life situations described here recounting events of 1950 in Korea.
Eric Waterbury
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
great book depicting a major battle in the harshest of conditions, during a war so few of my generation are aware of
Ronald Broun
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc
Good korean war books are hard to find. This view through a marine's eyes is really good.
Gary Boland
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting book on what is considered a forgotten war. There are elements of modernity (air support, radios) and throw-backs to technology that was considered obsolete (trenches, whistles)
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First person account of Marines in Korea. It was a tense-but good-read.
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