Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & The Coldest Winter & r & by David Halberstam & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & P & lt;/span & erhaps better than anyone, David Halberstam understood American war-making. And The Coldest Winter -- his last book due to his death in a car accident last April -- is a fitting conclusion to a distinguished career. After all, the Korean War was the beginning of that post-World War II trend toward mixing politics and the military -- a self-defeating brew, indeed.





In 1950, disaster struck on the Korean peninsula when a crazy Kim Il Sung invaded South Korea, seeking to push the Americans into the sea and reunite Korea under the banner of Communism. Halberstam starts midway through the war, after the UN forces had pushed the North Koreans back. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in charge from his command center in Japan, pressed on, aiming to run the North Koreans into China. But a funny thing happened on the way to victory -- China sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers into the fight, and the days to follow included some of the darkest and proudest in American history.





Halberstam brings our forgotten war to terrifying life, and his insightful biographical sketches of the key players -- especially MacArthur, who provides the book's backbone -- are as engrossing as the military action. This is masterful storytelling, and it provides a bookend to Halberstam's 1972 book The Best and the Brightest, which detailed how the smartest people in the world got stuck in Vietnam by, as he put it, creating "brilliant policies that defied common sense." And so it was in Korea -- "It was like complete insanity in the command," wrote one officer.





The wisdom Halberstam gleaned from a 52-year career centers on how the truth about war has been too often corrupted to suit the needs of presidents like Kennedy, Johnson and Bush -- and even generals like MacArthur. And, of course, how soldiers pay " an unusually high price for the stupidity and arrogance of other men."





But he learned something else, too -- "a respect for the nobility of ordinary people." Those words, found on the last pages of his final book, are as good an epitaph as any for so great a national treasure as David Halberstam.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • In Contempt
  • In Contempt

    A Spokane judge rules that the mental health system has willfully failed to follow evaluation deadlines
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Never Again
  • Never Again

    Washington state lawmakers push reforms after last July's murder-suicide; plus, Spokane's police ombudsman is leaving
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
A T. Rex Named Sue

A T. Rex Named Sue @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Let Us Breathe

    Spokane joins national protests over the failure to indict white officers for killing black civilians
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation