Refighting the Last War

D. Clayton James, Author, Anne Sharp Wells, With
D. Clayton James, Author, Anne Sharp Wells, With Free Press $29.95 (290p) ISBN 978-0-02-916001-5
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
James ( The Year of MacArthur ), writing with freelancer Sharp, discusses the five principal American commanders of the Korean War (President Truman, Generals MacArthur, Matthew Ridgway and Mark Clark, and Admiral C. Turner Joy) and six crucial command decisions they made during the three-year conflict. According to this Virginia Military Institute history teacher, those decisions were: sending U.S. troops to fight in Korea; initiating the amphibious landing at Inchon; launching the counterattack in North Korea; settling for an armistic rather than total victory; and imposing tactical restrictions on ground, sea and air operations. What sets this book apart from other histories of the Korean War is the original thesis that both sides, without a word of formal agreement, set up an intricate system of limitations specifically designed to avert a general war. James argues that the kind of devastating American conquest that was possible in the post-WW II era would have guaranteed the eruption of another and more terrible global war. This is a fresh look at the ``strange and ugly war'' which, according to James's cogent analysis, was unique in its self-imposed limitations. (Dec.)
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