THE SECRETS OF INCHON: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Covert Mission of the Korean War
Prolific historian Fleming (The Officers' Wives, etc.) was researching an article on Inchon when he interviewed the widow of Clark, a naval officer on General MacArthur's intelligence staff who died in 1998, about his role in intelligence gathering for the amphibious landing at Inchon Harbor—an operation that turned the tide of the Korean War. She in turn produced the manuscript of this book from a safe deposit box, and the result is this workmanlike yet compelling memoir, written in the early '50s, soon after Clark's return. Clark volunteered for a mission that eventually included a naval skirmish between Korean junks, a commando raid on a communist-held island to capture prisoners and free imprisoned civilians, an infantry engagement with communist infiltrators, and Clark's takeover of a harbor lighthouse to light the fleet's way for the eventual invasion. Sympathetic observations on Korean culture are augmented by misconceptions, and extensive descriptions of tactics and reconstructed dialogue can be wearing. Yet this is a self-effacing account that openly acknowledges mistakes and misgivings, and Clark, who studied law at Princeton, learned Japanese and was eventually awarded the Silver Star, an oak leaf cluster and the Navy Cross, has considerable powers of observation that are apparent throughout. The use of "covert" in the subtitle is a bit puzzling, since the North Koreans were aware of Clark's presence in Inchon Harbor the entire time he was there, but this is a solid memoir of an important Korean War battle. (May 13)
Forecast:As an alternate selection of the BOMC, the History Book Club and the Military Book Club, this book should see good early numbers and slow but steady sales from the shelves, but will mostly be confined to military enthusiasts.