The fiftieth anniversary of the Korean War makes this an appropriate time to revisit This Kind of War, the monumental study of the conflict that began in June 1950. Successive generations of U.S. military officers have considered this book an indispensable part of their education.
T. R. Fehrenbach's narrative brings to life the harrowing and bloody battles that were fought up and down the Korean Peninsula. Partly drawn from official records, operations journals, and histories, it is based largely on the compelling personal narratives of the small-unit commanders and their troops. Unlike any other work on the Korean War, it provides a clear panoramic view, sharp insight into the successes and failures of U.S. forces, and a riveting account of fierce clashes between U.N. troops and the North Korean and Chinese communist invaders.
The lessons that Colonel Fehrenbach identifies still resonate. Severe peacetime budget cuts after World War II left the U.S. military a shadow of its former self. The terrible lesson of Korea was that to send into action troops trained for nothing but "serving a hitch" in some quiet billet was an almost criminal act. Throwing these ill-trained and poorly equipped troops into the heat of battle resulted in the war's early routs. The United States was simply unprepared for war. As we enter a new century with Americans and North Koreans continuing to face each other across the 38th parallel, we would do well to remember the price we paid during the Korean War.