Rating: 3 out of 5
Not knowing much about the Korean War, I thought this would be a good way to educate myself and, in broad terms, that was correct. Mr Hastings’ book covers the war in general terms but also delves into many different topics to compare them, mostly to Vietnam but also to the Second World War.
The history focusses on the original months of the war, describing in detail the North Korean onslaught and the American response. After the Chinese incursion starts and the UN forces are pushed back to the South, the principal description moves away from a chronological coverage of the events to a more general understanding of the fronts and different aspects of how the war was brought to a close.
These aspects are fairly broad: prisoners of war, air war, propaganda, intelligence, etc. Generally, these chapters are all very detailed along with the author’s commentary which notes how things went this way: this is especially useful in the air war section where, it seems, the author has a particular grudge against the myths that air force people perpetuate (e.g., wars can be fought with air forces only).
This is a good starting point to investigate the Korean campaign, but doesn’t work as the definitive history about any one subject. I recommend it for those interested in learning more about the conflict in general terms as it works well for that.