The Korean War is often referred to as the forgotten war. In his book, professor James N. Butcher relives his experiences as an infantryman with Fox Company of the 17th Infantry Regiment, during the final year of the Korean War (1952-1953). In a graphic portrayal of living conditions on the front, Butcher describes combat actions that occurred in two major battles of this periodthe Battle for Jane Russell Hill (a part of Triangle Ridge) and the first Battle of Pork Chop Hilland makes a strong case for why we as Americans need to remember what happened there and why.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book represents a remarkable achievement and a rare opportunity for readers - particularly those with interest in men and war - particularly the War in Korea. Dr. Butcher provides a very rare combination of accomplished writer AND combat veteran foot-soldier who lived through the war about which he writes. And although in his professional life, Dr. Butcher is one of the leading figures in psychology of the last 30 years, when he writes about being a soldier, he writes with the dash, humor, focus, and panache of the infantrymen about whom he writes.
The story of Dr. Butcher's experiences before and during the war would make compelling fiction - but it is not fiction, it is history. The writing is matter-of-fact - in the best sense. Life in war, and the life of an orphan in depression-era West Virginia, could have been presented in a far more dramatic fashion, but it would have detracted from the book's clarity and realism.
Butcher was born to a West Virginia coal miner father who died when the author was eight, and a mother who died shortly before the close of WWII, when he was eleven, leaving him and his two younger brothers to be substantially raised by his 15 year-old sister. Korea: Traces of a Forgotten War, is not only a record of military service, but also one of the development of a good and talented man who entered the army as much to serve his remaining family as his country.
He provides the reader with an amazing array of lenses to view both the war, in its military, political, strategic, tactical, and interpersonal aspects, but also in its features of stark realism of mud, fatigue, error, irony, miscalculation, death, and loss. Happily, it is full of wonderful, engaging stories. A plodding war need not engender a plodding memoir!
And, along the way, a man grows to find a sense of orientation for the life to come as the war ends. It is that kind of story, too.
The book is well written, but it isn't much about the war as it is about the men. If you are looking for a book about the war itself, this probably isn't the book for you. It is more about the life & times of an infantry soldier, & the training, & loss of friends he goes through. The author also briefly discusses his issues after the war, & his education as well.
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