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Books > History > Military > Korean War > B002DUCNI2
  1. Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War
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  2. Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War

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Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War
Eric Hammel

Told from the point of view of the men in the foxholes and tanks, outposts and command posts, this is the definitive account of the epic retreat under fire of the 1st Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir.

The author first sketches in the errors and miscalculations on the part of the American high command that caused the Marines to be strung out at the end of a narrow road scores of miles from the sea. He then plunges right into the action: the massing of Chinese forces in about ten-to-one strength; the Marines' command problems due to the climate and terrain and high-level over confidence; and the onset of the overwhelming Chinese assault.

With a wealth of tactical detail and small-unit action Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War is the most complete book written to date on this iconic battle. Author Eric Hammel's masterful account offers invaluable perspective on war at the gut level.

Praise for Chosin

"Hammel's book is full of accounts of the stuff that legends are made from. It is a cliffhanger of a story, and he tells it master-fully. Readers should be warned: Just as in the campaign itself, where there was no rear echelon and everyone was a combatant, so too, if you go into Yudam-ni with the Marines you had better be prepared to be with them all the way on to Hungnam and freedom." —Sea Power Magazine

"This is a view over the foxhole's rim. It concentrates on the superlative effort, suffering and courage of the young enlisted Marines, sailors and soldiers who glared at the quilted uniformed enemy and refused to be stared down ... a factual, revealing and penetrating look at war at its worst and men at their best." —The San Diego Union

"The author's weaving of men, crises, and numbing cold leaves the reader in awe of this feat of arms in which soldiers and Marines fought an epic struggle to survive. . . . Hammel's book is highly recommended." —Infantry Magazine

"Involves the reader emotionally in a kaleidoscope of different, individual perceptions—from officers in their headquarters to riflemen shivering in the foxholes ... to the small-unit actions that, in their totality, shaped the ultimate course of the battle." —Military History Magazine

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Few Military Historians can write a tactical combat narrative as well as Eric Hammel. In his book Chosin he gives you a foxhole-eye view of one of the pivotal battles of the Korean War, in which approx. 30,000 coalition troops (comprised mainly of U.S. Marine and Army units) were surrounded by roughly 150,000 Chinese troops and managed to break out and survive. Hammel's writing has a visceral quality takes you right down to the foxhole level, you'll feel the anticipation as U.S. forces brace to repel wave after wave of Chinese Infantry, you'll also be astonished by the many acts of selfless heroism spotlighted in the book, most of all you'll feel the cold. He does a great job of relating the experience of the common marine/soldier, and the sheer grit, determination and will power it took for them to survive such adverse conditions. Chosin is one of the best books I've read on the conflict, absolutely essential reading.
With the situation in North Korea today, I thought this would provide an interesting insight to that part of the world. It did far more than that for me. The detail in the book is riveting and drives home the difficulties faced by the soldiers in the battle. I did not understand the mass involvement of the Chinese army, the absolute bitter cold, or the overwhelming numbers of opposition. I walked away proud to be an American and saddened by the relatively silent reflection on the Korean War when compared with the many recent movies and novels about World War II. A great novel that should be considered recommended reading for young adults so that they can experience the intensity and sacrifice of a fighting American soldier.
First off let me say that in some respects this reads like a after action report with more detail,I did not read it in one sitting. I read General O.P. Smith's extract of the letter he wrote to the Commandant of the Marine Corps in "Leatherneck" covering the Chosin operation. This book follows the letter very closely. One of the things I found most interesting in both the book and letter is the fact that they cover the operations of both the 31st and 32d Infantry Regiments of the 7th Infantry Division and their contributions to the success of the withdrawl or as General Smith put it "attacking in a different direction". I say this because most people that know anything about the "War America Forgot" think the Chosin action was strickly a Marine operation. The author gives a great deal of credit to the air support they received both in fighter bombers, air medical evacuation and air drop of needed material. He also covers leadership and what happens when too many links in the chain of... Read more
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