[PDF READ] (On Desperate Ground The Marines at The Reservoir the Korean War's Greatest Battle)
The Guitar Style of Jerry Reed yTervention MacArthur pursued sending three columns toward the Yalu River In the broken terrain of the Taeback Mountains in the midst of a terrible winter the Chinese forces that MacArthur believed would stay out of the war arrived in force At the Chosin Reservoir the American X Corps including the men of the First Marine Division found themselves surrounded by thousands of Chinese soldiers Over the next seventeen days a brutal fighting retreat ensued comprising one of the great epics in the annals of warfare Hampton Sides On Desperate Ground tells this story in gripping almost cinematic fashion This 337 page book is taut fast paced and novelistic in its details Employing brief chapters Sides provides a broad stripped down overview of the Korean War that sets the stage for the Chosin drama Even ifou ve never read a word on the subject Sides ensures that الإيضاح لمتن ايساغوجي في المنطق you have enough context to understand what is going on The centerpiece of course is the battle itself and Sides effortlessly deploys his immense storytelling skills There are some limitations though For instance Sides does not attempt to provide a comprehensive account of the fight around the Chosin Reservoir Instead he focuses on General Oliver Prince Smith and the First Marines Undoubtedly this will further stoke inter service rivalries as the plight of the Army with the exception of a brief interlude with Task Forth Faith is mostly ignored Further Sides is interested in the experiences of the men rather than the tactical ebb and flow of the battle Ifou want to know about every single maneuver or desire an extensive recounting of the positioning of troops down to the last platoon Riders of the Sea you are not going to find that here Sides givesou the basics but that s all Instead he follows individuals providing engrossing mini arcs of men under impossible duress battling the enemy and the cold And that is the beating heart of On Desperate Ground This is a grunt s eye view of ferocious combat that often became hand to hand and face to face There is for example Lieutenant John Yancey of Company E charged with defending Hill 1282 against waves of Chinese troops In the midst of this action a Chinese attacker armed with a Thompson submachine gun moved in close and sueezed a burst into Yancey s face One of the bullets entered Yancey s cheek just below his eye and angled down through his sinus cavities coming to rest in the back of his neck near the base of his skull Luckily it had missed his spine but along the way the projectile had fractured his cheekbone jarred loose numerous teeth and dislocated his jaw Worst of all the bullet pried Yancey s right eye from the socket The ball dangling by a cord of nerves and fibers rested high on his cheekbone Yet somehow Yancey was still functioning He picked himself up from the snow and with his good eye spied his assailant reloading his Thompson Reflexively Yancey snatched his45 pistol from its holsterand fired two rounds into the enemy soldier s abdomen killing him Then Yancey horrified but not knowing what else to do cradled his eyeball and gently mashed it back into its ragged hole On Desperate Ground is a technically flawless book It is popular history at its best rousing entertaining informative It never bogs down never gets tangled in minutiae Indeed it seems designed for mass appeal with the Marine centric narrative the bite sized chapters and the brutal evocations of combat This is an unabashed tale of heroism and sacrifice of men against fire and cold This is one of those books I feel comfortable guaranteeing If Jewish Women Speak About Jewish Matters you pick this upou will not regret it And et I have to add that I am mildly disappointed Somewhere my wife is shaking her head knowing that I live most of my life in a state of mild disappointment Hampton Sides is at his absolute best when he is working with unknown stories from a daring POW rescue in Ghost Soldiers to the doom of the Navajos in Blood and Thunder to the tragic Arctic expedition of the USS Jeanette in In the Kingdom of Ice He has a knack for digging deeper for illuminating some of the small corners of history that tend to get lost in shadow He does not get a chance to put those skills to use here The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir is not an unknown story To the contrary it has been told and retold numerous times Sides provides a beautiful presentation but does not reveal anything new Certainly he has done his job in interviewing participants However at this late date I do not know how much these interviews add to what we already know Most of the stories featured prominently in On Desperate Ground have been covered before extensively Just recently an entire book was released about Fox Company s bloody hilltop stand The Last Stand of Fox Company Likewise with Jesse LeRoy Brown a black Corsair pilot shot down while providing air cover Devotion More than that Sides does not really have anything to say about the battle other than that it was an extreme test of endurance He is content to repeat the conclusions found in other secondary sources especially Martin Russ Breakout This is an exceptional example of narrative nonfiction done right Yet I cannot help wishing that "Sides Had Used His Considerable Talents As Both Historian "had used his considerable talents as both a a writer to highlight some other aspect of the Korean War The men of the Frozen Chosin especially the Marines have their monuments Almost seventy ears after Kim Il Sung s legions poured over the 38th Parallel we have a better idea of what a North Korean victory in 1950 might have meant That knowledge adds considerably have a better idea of what a North Korean victory in 1950 might have meant That knowledge adds considerably the deeds of the South Korean US and UN troops that held the line Sides would have been doing a valuable historical service if he had looked a little harder for the unsung heroes Yeah this is the book There aren t many authors who can keep my bedside lamp burning until 0300 hrs on a workday but that s what happened to this one Any good war story has to have a mixture of brass officers strategy planning and balls grunts action blood and guts brotherhood Hampton Sides has mixed these ingredients in just the right combination which is about one part brass to three parts ballsSides spends a bit of time explaining what we already knew that MacArthur was as crazy as a shithouse rat an officer who loved to be in the rear with the gear surrounded by sycophants His real effort is expended in relating the heroic battles of the USMC against overwhelming Chinese forces in the battle for the Chosin Reservoir commonly called the Frozen Chosin I m not going to relate any exploits here Sides has already done that for ou in his book Suffice to say that these leathernecks are a bunch of tough hombres an Sides always does a great job of humanizing conflicts of war by selecting a handful of individuals and focusing on their specific experiences In On Desperate Ground Sides follows historical figures such as General MacArthur and President Truman to provide big picture context but the meat of the book which provides the strongest images of the conflict for the reader follows the Army and Marine grunts on the ground It is the experiences of these men that bring the ugliness of warfare to light The Chosin Reservoir was a remarkable battle for multiple reasons In one respect it illuminates the conseuences of hubris particularly on the part of MacArthur and Almond but it also illustrates the pride and valor of the United States Armed Forces This was the United States version of Xenophon s march of the ten thousand something that Sides references multiple times as well and it really is a remarkable readIt is embarrassing how little I knew about the Korean War up to this point On Desperate Ground is a well crafted introduction into the war and its greatest battle Even if ou are already familiar with The Chosin Reservoir read this Hampton Sides latest book ON DESPERATE GROUND THE MARINES AT THE RESERVOIR THE KOREAN WAR S GREATEST BATTLE has met or even surpassed the high standards for excellent narrative history that he has set in his previous works The book is based on extensive interviews memoirs command of secondary sources and the ability to place the reader along side historical decision makers and the soldiers who carried out The enemy forces with ferocity ingenuity and nearly unimaginable courage Hampton Sides's superb account of the battle relies on ears of archival research and interviews with scores of Marines and Koreans who survived the siege While expertly chronicling the follies of the American leaders this is an immediate grunt's eye view of history enthralling in its narrative pace and powerful in its portrayal of what ordinary men are capable of in the most extreme circumstanc. Ng the terrain and even worse what turned out to be one of the coldest winters ever experienced in North KoreaFortunately Smith did not suffer from the hubris that characterized MacArthur and Almond and thus he possessed the foresight to take some precautionary measures in the event that his division was attacked andor surroundedAnd of course the Chinese were in the area and they did attack The Marines about 13000 men were cut off and surrounded by 120000 Chinese troops The battle was fought in extremely brutal weather that saw temperatures dip to 20 degrees below zero or at times even lowerAt the mess tent a cup of scalding coffee would accumulate a skim of ice within minutes Canteens and C rations froze solid Fingers stuck to metal It had a cauterizing effect on wounds Blood from bullet holes or shrapnel tears simply froze to the skin and stopped flowing It is estimated that the Chinese suffered an estimated 30000 killed in action and about 12000 wounded The Marine casualties included 750 dead with 3000 wounded and about 200 missingHow the division escaped is a remarkable feat a successful retreat that was made possible by a general who unlike MacArthur and Almond took nothing for granted Once again Hampton Sides does not disappoint This was a uniuely engaging in parts riveting and easily accessible slice of military history nicely placed in time and place and context seasoned splendidly with just enough human interest to ramp up the empathy but not distract and as is the case with his other stuff efficiently written so it feels as if the pages are turning themselvesI m long past the point of being objective about Sides work he s one of my favorite non fiction authors full stop He won me over with Ghost Soldiers and in some ways this felt to be cut from the same cloth even if the underlying story was on the one hand broader et seemingly less epic This isn t necessarily the kind of stuff I expect that folks will be assigned to read in the military s senior service schools but it s still incredibly informative as military history goesI ve read much much less about the Korean War than by comparison Vietnam or World War II and for that matter World War I or even the Revolutionary or Civil Wars I m sure there are reasons for that but as a result while much of this was familiar as always MacArthur remains a uniuely polarizing figure and times than not I consider Truman insufficiently appreciated there were plenty of stories within the story which were totally new to meI look forward to reading whatever Sides publishes next What a treat to have Sides create a narrative for us on a tough job our soldiers had in Korea and gather in some lessons relevant to our precarious position today in that part of the world I ve had nothing but 5 star reads with this talented storyteller and history sleuth and this one continues that tradition His major focus here is on a critical campaign that almost started World War 3 namely MacArthur s ini Hampton Sides in one of those authors whose books automatically goes to the top of my TBR list His look at the first 6 months of the Korean War and the Marines escape from the Chosin Reservoir does not disappoint This narrative really begins with MacArthur s great gamble the invasion at Inchon and the subseuent liberation of Seoul In telling this story Mr Sides relates the unreasonable time table MacArthur set Seoul had to liberated by 25 Sep the 3 month anniversary of North Korea s Invasion and how it dictated the Marines tactics The commander of X Corps the 1st Marine Divisions higher H MG Ned Almond s was in complete agreement with it As with most other accounts of Inchon and Chosin Almond comes off badly With the capture of Seoul he is show to be completely in agreement with MacA and when the Marine Commander MG OP Smith objects basically tells him I am giving this book 5 stars The 5 star rating for me means the book possesses a WOW factors and this book certainly had me expressing that sentiment on several occasions To begin with I have to confess that 20th century wars generally do not have a great deal of appeal for me as they tend to have been overly done by popular media Conseuently I do not know much about the Korean War and surprisingly this war didn t seem to get the usual media exposure of wars fought after the invention of movies television and the internet The only movie I can recall about the Korean War was Gregory Peck in Pork Chop Hill It has been called the Forgotten War "And That Really Is True I Read "that really is true I read Shaara s historical fiction regarding the same subject last ear and that book opened my eyes and awareness to the battle depicted in these pages but I cannot imagine a better concise readable and entertaining treatment of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir that what has been accomplished by Hampton SidesWhile the author has written a history he has written it with the heart pounding excitement of a bestselling thriller Even knowing the outcome of the various disparate events in this battle I couldn t put the book down until I read another page and then another and well we all know how that goes Sides doesn t go into a lot of detail *about the specifics of the engagements and the strategies and tactics *the specifics of the engagements and the strategies and tactics is not that sort of book What the reader is given is a strong sense of living the struggles and terrors that were experienced by Marines and soldiers that were there and those that commanded them While many of the stories told in this book may have been previously recounted in other works this author still does a masterful job of telling the stories for the benefit of readers that are not as knowledgeable of this War or this battle This book is an example of how history really should be written so that ordinary people can better appreciate and digest the information that we should all be familiar with The reader cannot help but put this book down and come away with a better understanding of the horrors of war and a greater appreciation for the oung people that are sent off to endure these horrors This book is going on my Highly Recommended bookshelf and I hope all of ou give this book a well deserved read Enjoy A Chinese soldier armed with a rifle climbed onto the bed of the truck He came to the first man leveled the barrel between his eyes and fired He moved on to the next Then the nextEd Reeves sat up half out of his sleeping bag and watched as though it were movie He didn t know any of these Americans especially well he d just shared the bed of a truck with them for a day and a half but he was in awe of them They didn t beg or cry they didn t utter so much as a whimper They looked their executioner in the eye and died with dignityWhen the barrel slid over to Reeves he felt strangely at peace His eyes followed the smooth metal until they found the eyes of the soldier Reeves did not see malice in them He was a kid following horrible orders Possibly from his point of view it was a mission of mercy get it over with in an instant rather than let them slowly freeze to death The soldier was standing no than three feet away when he sueezed the trigger The muzzle blast knocked Reeves to the floor Then the barrel swung over to the next man Hampton Sides On Desperate Ground The Marines at the Reservoir the Korean War s Greatest BattleThe Korean War occupies a strange place in American military history sandwiched between World War II the good war and Vietnam the bad war It was fought for nebulous reasons many contemporary accounts from ordinary soldiers stress their uncertainty of purpose and ended in a draw with the North KoreanChinese forces on the one side and the South KoreanUN forces on the other essentially reverting to the status uo ante bellum It is a relatively forgotten conflict or police action whose essential importance has only been demonstrated by the fullness of timeWhile the Korean War in general does not occupy a prominent place in the public consciousness its most famous battle certainly does In November 1950 the North Korean forces were on the run After early stunning successes Douglas MacArthur s landing at Inchon flipped the field and sent them scrambling northward Despite the threat of Chinese in. Rtainty would not intervene in the war As he was speaking 300000 Chinese soldiers began crossing the border Led by the 13000 men of the 1st Marine Division the Americans moved far north into the trap Mao had set for the arrogant MacArthur at the Chosin Reservoir What followed was one of the most heroic and harrowing operations in American military history Faced with annihilation and temperatures plunging to 20 degrees below zero the surrounded Marines fought through. .
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This is the best account of the Chosin Reservoir battle I have read Sides is an excellent historian and his exhaustive research shows But than that Sides knows how to weave individual stories into the broad overview and still keep the narrative pace moving smartly alongChosin was the site of the first major engagement between the United Nations coalition force commanded by the vainglorious Gen Douglas MacArthur and Mao Zedong s People s Volunteer Army Gen Oliver Smith of the First Marine Division spearheaded the effort North Korea had started the war five months earlier when it invaded the South United Nations forces pushed the North Koreans back beyond the 38th parallel and MacArthur thought he could defeat the North Koreans decisively so as to reunite the country But when the Americans got closer to the Chinese border Mao decided to intervene in a BIG way shifting 300000 troops to the Korean peninsula from a planned engagement with Taiwan These troops were ill prepared for the brutal cold and lacked even sufficient guns Indeed the most common guns were American ones scavenged from the Nationalists who had lost to the CommunistsGen MacArthur completely underestimated the Chinese s fighting prowess and disregarded his own intelligence reports indicating that the Chinese had crossed the Yulu River into North Korea Gen Smith was not so sanguine and did his best to prepare for the worst while still following orders from headuarters Those efforts allowed for one of military history s greatest tactical retreats The battle was fought in extreme cold dipping to 25 degrees Fahrenheit on occasion And as my Marine son said after cold weather training in Canada Hell is not hot it is cold The cold caused the radios to not work properly so communication was dicey The only positive thing that could be said about such cold was that it helped to cauterize woundsThe butcher s bill was huge Casualties totaled 10000 some 4300 of them Marines More than 7000 other Marines suffered noncombat injuries primarily frostbite By contrast the Chinese reported roughly 50000 killed or wounded Highly recommend Sun Tzu says in The Art of War that in battle there are nine kinds of situations nine kinds of grounds The final and most distressing type is a situation in which one s army can be saved from destruction only by fighting without delay It is a place without shelter and no possibility of easy retreat If met by the enemy an army has no alternative but to surrender or fight its way out of its predicament Sun Tzu calls this desperate ground Hampton Sides On Desperate GroundHampton Sides graduated from Yale with a degree in American history However he first made his mark as a journalist whose work was published in major periodicals But beginning with the publication of Ghost Soldiers in 2001 he has become a hugely successful author of critically acclaimed narrative historiesHis latest is On Desperate Ground The Marines at the Reservoir the Korean War s Greatest Battle published in 2018 As the subtitle indicates it is not a comprehensive study of the Korean War but primarily focuses on the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir In his review of the book in the Christian Science Monitor Randy Dotinga writes that it s a towering tale of official ineptitude and battlefield fortitude that plays out against the backdrop of America s most forgotten modern war Sadly to many Americans it is simply the war that took place between WWII and Viet Nam On Desperate Ground is an account not of a heroic victory but rather a heroic retreat Sides makes the case that the tragic and bloody circumstances that led to the retreat would have never occurred without the misjudgment of a narcissistic seventy ear old military commanderGeneral Douglas MacArthur was the supreme commander of allied powers in the Pacific and as such was in charge of the postwar occupation of Japan when North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25 1950 and drove the South Korean and US Armies south to a perimeter surrounding the port of Pusan at the tip of the Korean peninsulaOn September 15 MacArthur launched an audacious highly risky amphibious landing in South Korea at the port of Inchon located due west of Seoul the South s capital city A lot of things could have gone wrong but they didn t And the invading "Marines were able to liberate Seoul and drive the North Korean army in disarray back "were able to liberate Seoul and drive the North Korean army in disarray back the north beyond the 38th Parallel which divided the two countries War is the unfolding of miscalculations Barbara TuchmanSides lays the blame for the miscalculations that followed Inchon suarely on the shoulders of Douglas MacArthur After the dramatic blame for the miscalculations that followed Inchon suarely on the shoulders of Douglas MacArthur After the dramatic of the Inchon landing hubris defined as a feeling of excessive pride self confidence and arrogance became an overwhelming mindset that hampered Douglas MacArthur s vision of what was to come after InchonHad the war ended with the North Korean army defeated and driven back to the north it would have lasted about three months But because of official ineptitude at the top the war lasted another three ears ending in stalemate with the two countries still divided at the point they were when the war beganUnfortunately MacArthur s delusions of grandeur got the best of him and instead of ending the fighting with the liberation of South Korea he made plans to cross the border and march all the way to the Yalu the river that separates North Korea and ChinaThe General had assured President Harry Truman that organized resistance would be terminated by Thanksgiving and that the troops would be home by ChristmasTruman asked that MacArthur be sensitive to any indication that China or the Soviet Union might enter the war He demanded that at the first sign of any involvement on the part of either of those nations that MacArthur was to halt his advanceSides writesMacArthur played down Truman s concerns His own intelligence indicated that the Chinese wouldn t dare enter the conflict and if they did he was sure his forces would destroy them He did not think much of Mao s troops He believed they were nothing than a band of serfs subsisting on rice ball and ams relying on little burp guns and fizzly explosives that usually failed to detonate an army held together with hemp string and bambooIt was on October 15 that MacArthur assured Truman that the Chinese would not enter the war Four days later Chinese troops in large numbers began to infiltrate into North Korea MacArthur refused to believe the clear intelligence that reported the infiltrations and moved ahead with his plans to march to the Yalu RiverSides calls it one of the most egregious intelligence failures in American military history If Sides is unable to hide his disdain for the role that MacArthur as well as General Ned Almond the overall commander in the field played in Korea he expresses great admiration for the commander of the First Marine Division General Oliver P Smith He writes that Smith is one of the great underrated generals in American history that he was cerebral soft spoken but also a man of ruthless efficiency He was a by the book Marine but he knew when to throw the book away In other words Smith was the anti MacArthurMacArthur s grandiose battle plan involved three columns marching north toward the Yalu River The columns would be separated from each other by high mountains which made communication between them extremely difficult and important made it impossible for one column to come to the aid of another in case one got into troubleSmith s Marines would have the most difficult assignment They would be forced to march than seventy miles up a narrow road that wound its way into the highlands eventually to a large artificial lake known as the Chosin Reservoir After they achieved that objective they were to keep going until they reached the Yalu located a hundred miles from the reservoirFrom the start Smith opposed the plan but he was unable to convince MacArthur and Almond that the march to the reservoir would put his command "in a dangerously exposed position The major problem was that there was only one road to the reservoir and "a dangerously exposed position The major problem was that there was only one road to the reservoir and one road out in the event retreat became necessary and it didIn addition the Marines had other problems includi. 12 hrs 8 minsFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and In the Kingdom of Ice a chronicle of the extraordinary feats of heroism by Marines called on to do the impossible during the greatest battle of the Korean WarOn October 15 1950 the vainglorious General Douglas MacArthur Supreme Commander of UN troops in Korea convinced President Harry Truman that the communist forces would be utterly defeated by Thanksgiving The Chinese he said with near ce.