From 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 War
On 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 certainty, would not intervene in the war.
As he was speaking, 300,000 Chinese soldiers began crossing the border. Led by the 13,000 men of the First 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 heroicand harrowingoperations in American military history. Faced with annihilation, and temperatures plunging to 20 degrees below zero, the surrounded Marines fought through the enemy forces with ferocity, ingenuity, and nearly unimaginable courage.
Hampton Sides's superb account of the battle relies on years 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 circumstances.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)|
About the Author
HAMPTON SIDES is an award-winning editor of Outside and the author of the bestselling histories In the Kingdom of Ice, Hellhound on His Trail, Blood and Thunder, and Ghost Soldiers.
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Table of Contents
Prologue: Morning Calm 3
Book 1 Seoul
Chapter 1 The Professor 9
Chapter 2 Traitor's House 21
Chapter 3 Across the Han 29
Chapter 4 Beneath the Lighthouse 36
Chapter 5 The Battle of the Barricades 39
Chapter 6 The Savior of Our Race 48
Chapter 7 God's Right-Hand Man 56
Chapter 8 The Tiger Wants Human Beings 62
Book 2 To The Mountains
Chapter 9 Many, Many 71
Chapter 10 King's Envoy to Hamhung 80
Chapter 11 Heroic Remedies 88
Chapter 12 Will o' the Wisp 95
Chapter 13 Broken Arrows 104
Chapter 14 A Powerful Instrument 109
Chapter 15 Fattened for the Kill 119
Chapter 16 Never Too Late to Talk 128
Chapter 17 Never a More Daring Flight 132
Book 3 The Reservoir
Chapter 18 Easy for Us, Tough for Others 141
Chapter 19 Boon Companions 150
Chapter 20 Easy Company Holds Here 157
Chapter 21 Where the Bullet Belongs 163
Chapter 22 Gung-ho, You Cowardly Bastards 168
Chapter 23 When the Lead Is Flying 172
Chapter 24 A Hot Reception 182
Chapter 25 The War Council 191
Chapter 26 An Entirely New War 195
Book 4 $$$
Chapter 27 You Will All Be Slaughtered 203
Chapter 28 Kissing a Buzz Saw 211
Chapter 29 Morphine Dreams 215
Chapter 30 No Soft Options 219
Chapter 31 One-Man Army 228
Chapter 32 Every Weapon That We Have 236
Chapter 33 The Ridgerunners 239
Chapter 34 This Place of Suffering 247
Book 4 $$$
Chapter 35 Attacking in a Different Direction 257
Chapter 36 In the Day of Trouble 266
Chapter 37 I'll Get You a Goddamn Bridge 275
Chapter 38 Blood on the Ice 281
Chapter 39 Taking Departure 289
Chapter 40 The Bridge of Long Life 297
Chapter 41 Down to Earth 300
Chapter 42 The Most Harrowing Hour 306
Chapter 43 The Crossing 310
Chapter 44 We Will See You Again in the South 316
Chapter 45 We Walk in the Hand of God 323
Epilogue: In the Pantheon 333
A Note on Sources 345
Selected Bibliography 369
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I remember much regarding the start of the Korean war but this book puts it in clearer focus!
“On Desperate Ground” places the struggle of the First Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir in the context of the early phase of the Korean War. It provides insights into the MacArthur Court in Tokyo and Mac’s relations with Washington. The Inchon Landings set in motion the events that placed the First Marines at the frozen lake when the Chinese intervention turned the United Nations war from a march to the Yalu to a desperate struggle for survival. The trials of individual soldiers add human interest to the tale. I appreciate the even-handed treatment of MacArthur. Criticism of his unwillingness to tolerate dissent among his staff and glaring errors in assessing intelligence about Chinese and Russian involvement is balanced by recognition of his master stroke at Inchon and the universal enthusiasm to conquer North Korea from the battleground to the White House. I am intrigued by the suggestion that MacArthur could not figure out why he was summoned to Wake Island to meet President Truman. Author Hampton Sides has crafted an informative tome that draws the reader into the conferences and the intense cold and pain of Chosin that is difficult to put down. It is a must read for anyone interested in the Korean War, Douglas MacArthur or just in search of a great read.
Good combination of personal stories in the context of the bigger picture.
On Desperate Ground by Hampton Sides is an incredibly well-researched account the battle at Choisin Reservoir during the Korean War. As someone who doesn't normally pick up nonfiction titles I was amazed at how quickly I was pulled in to the story of the Marines and their extraordinary heroism. Engaging writing and amazing attention to detail provides the reader with an immediate connection to not only the soldiers, but the innocent people who were affected by the war. Thank you to Netgalley and Doubleday for the opportunity to read and review this advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
On Desperate Ground: The Marines at The Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle by Hampton Sides is the history of one of the greatest stories to come out of the Korean War. Sides is an American historian, author, and journalist. He is the author of Americana, Hellhound on His Trail, Ghost Soldiers, Blood and Thunder, and other bestselling works of narrative history and literary non-fiction. The Korean War is America’s forgotten war, and the heroics that took place in the war are often overlooked. Marines, however, do remember the events from the landing at Inchon to the evacuation at Chosin. Perhaps the Marine Corps most celebrated and most iconic leader Colonel Chesty Puller. Puller and the Marines left no man behind as they fought their way out of being surrounded at Chosin. Puller always saw the positive: “We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.” Temperatures were well below zero, and the Marines reported 7,338 non-battle casualties from the weather alone. The navy provided close air support and the air force dropped in supplies. If there was a time to see defeat this was it. There would be no defeat at Chosin. The Marines made an orderly withdrawal under heavy fire and against a force that vastly outnumbered them. Sides tells the story of the forces involved at Chosin. Using the narrative form, he brings to life Marines and members of the other services and countries who fought the battle, I am not usually a fan of the narrative style in nonfiction writing, but here Sides breathes life into those who were there. Army and Marine Corps archives were used to form much of the narrative. Also used were interviews of over fifty who fought at Chosin and the personal papers of many others. On Desperate Ground puts a human voice on the battle and the war. More than just battle plans and casualty counts this book is about the people who were there.
This is a comment about the "Editorial Review" of the book. Whoever wrote it clearly does not know anything about the Korean War, the battle of the Chosin Reservoir, or Korean geography. First, the Marines were not the only force that was involved with the battle. The Army 9th Infantry Division played a significant role in that as the Marines withdrew toward Hamhung harbor, the 9th fought a delaying action giving the Marines cover. The editor needs to give credit where credit is due. Second, Inchon is on the west coast of Korean and is located below the 38th parallel in South Korean. The editor needs a remedial geography lesson. Bottom line: get an editor and check your facts.