cover image Valleys of Death: A Memoir of the Korean War

Valleys of Death: A Memoir of the Korean War

Col. William "Bill" Richardson, U.S.A. (Ret.) with Kevin Maurer, Berkley Caliber, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-23673-4

Richardson looks back at the 1950s when he was a master sergeant with the First Cavalry Division in Korea. After U.S. Army occupation duty from 1946 to 1950 in Italy, Germany, and Austria, and the U.N. vote to defend South Korea, he was reassigned to Fort Devens, Mass., to train recruits in weaponry. Shortly after arriving in Taegu, South Korea, their battalion was subjected to North Korean attacks. He recalls both fear and acts of bravery amid the deafening explosions, flying shrapnel, mortar and artillery fire, mass slaughter, bodies lying in piles, and the stunned reaction after a message dropped from a plane: "We were on our own. No relief column was on its way... and if we stayed in this hellhole we would all die." The final third of the book details his torture and starvation during 34 months as a POW, concluding with a short summary of his later military career. Aided by journalist Maurer, Richardson never pulls his punches in these vivid descriptions of bloody combat action, interrupted by occasional flashbacks to his youth on the streets of Philadelphia Photos, maps. (Dec.)