cover image THE SCARIEST PLACE IN THE WORLD: A Marine Returns to North Korea

THE SCARIEST PLACE IN THE WORLD: A Marine Returns to North Korea

James Brady, . . St. Martin's, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-33242-6

This powerful narrative by the author of The Marines of Autum is an endearing piece of warrior's nostalgia, written with his accustomed skill by a seasoned writer. Returning to Korea, Brady revisits some of the places where he fought as a Marine platoon commander. In the opening, Brady finds his old battlefield of Hill 749 within sight of North Korean emplacements, although well-defended by a South Korean army vastly improved from what he remembers from 50-plus years ago. The rest of the narrative shifts back and forth, beginning with the author's nerve-wracking stroke to his going to Korea to write the Parade article on which this book is based. As Brady rides through Seoul with skyscrapers on every side, he remembers seeing it in 1951, when there wasn't a building taller than two stories left standing. Fellow Marines, from "the Skipper" (the company commander, the late Rhode Island governor and senator John Chaffee) on down, appear in their old age, and in their youth when they faced the Chinese with everything from artillery to bayonets. Brady, who expresses grave reservations about the Iraq War, sometimes moves from topic to topic fast enough to lose readers, but this book marks a highly admirable addition to his distinguished body of work. (Apr.)