Chrysanthemum in the Snow

James Hickey, Author Crown Publishers $19.95 (335p) ISBN 978-0-517-57402-7
Leading his platoon against the North Koreans in 1952, Lt. Donald Robertson wears a hachimaki , or samurai's headband, a symbol of acceptance of death. Plagued by the specter of a Korean woman, Robertson carries a terrible secret, a burden revealed only at the close of this solid, workmanlike first novel. Typical soldier types are portrayed, yet Hickey, who served in Korea, gives them individuality: brash Southerner Braxton Fowlkes, who breaks down under the strain of battle; Sam Dougherty, a hot-tempered ex-con; Tom Carver, a black sergeant exposed to racism in the ranks; and Bronx-born Sol Zuckerman, who sees Korea as a test of manhood which he is failing. The battle scenes, the camaraderie, the frustrating stalemates and nightmare of war are powerfully conveyed. Emblematic of the abyss between East and West is Choi Min-soo, a courteous, maxim-spouting South Korean soldier who aids Robertson although he regards Americans as a vastly inferior species--much as the GIs see the Koreans. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
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