Refighting the Last War: Command and Crisis in Korea 1950-1953

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9780029160015: Refighting the Last War: Command and Crisis in Korea 1950-1953

This book examines the Korean War, the paradigm of America's conflicts with communism. He argues that, like so many wars, the Korean War was fought broadly along the lines of the war before, World War II. It shows, however, that the consequences of this error were limited by the State Department. The book examines the roles, leadership, personalities and prejudices of five key commanders - President Harry S. Truman, General Douglas MacArthur, General Matthew B. Ridgway, General Mark W. Clark and Admiral C. Turner Joy. It goes on to look at the crucial issues that confronted them during the conflict: Truman's decision to commit US forces to war without congressional approval; MacArthur's pressure for an assault on Inchon; and the decision to open truce negotiations. The book analyzes the ground-level results and long-term consequences of command decisions, and explores the course the war might have taken had certain crucial decisions been taken differently.

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From Publishers Weekly:

James ( The Year of MacArthur ), writing with freelancer Sharp, discusses the five principal American commanders of the Korean War (President Truman, Generals MacArthur, Matthew Ridgway and Mark Clark, and Admiral C. Turner Joy) and six crucial command decisions they made during the three-year conflict. According to this Virginia Military Institute history teacher, those decisions were: sending U.S. troops to fight in Korea; initiating the amphibious landing at Inchon; launching the counterattack in North Korea; settling for an armistic rather than total victory; and imposing tactical restrictions on ground, sea and air operations. What sets this book apart from other histories of the Korean War is the original thesis that both sides, without a word of formal agreement, set up an intricate system of limitations specifically designed to avert a general war. James argues that the kind of devastating American conquest that was possible in the post-WW II era would have guaranteed the eruption of another and more terrible global war. This is a fresh look at the "strange and ugly war" which, according to James's cogent analysis, was unique in its self-imposed limitations.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

James (military history, Virginia Military Inst., and author of the three-volume Years of MacArthur , LJ 4/1/85) has reinterpreted America's first limited war. He analyzes the roles, leadership abilities, personalities, and prejudices of five American commanders--Truman, MacArthur, Ridgway, Mark Clark, and C. Turnery Joy--and then looks at six crucial decisions confronting them. Among the topics discussed are Truman's decision to go to war without the consent of Congress; MacArthur's preoccupation with Inchon and the Yalu; and Joy's two-year stint negotiating with the Communists. James argues that the Korean War is the key to understanding American decision making in all subsequent conflicts and concludes that each new war is fought using the lessons of the last war. This is hardly a new or startling conclusion. Graduates of the Army War College and specialists in civilian-military relationships in a democracy will find this work of interest, but it is too specialized for the general reader. For large collections of military history.
- Stanley Itkin, Hillside P.L., New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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D. Clayton James
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