The Korean War

The Korean War : The Fight Across the 38th Parallel

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The Korean War was the first open conflict of the Cold War. Just five years after the end of World War II, the unresolved divisions between South Korea, backed by the US, and North Korea, supported by the Soviet Union and China, erupted into armed conflict when North Korean troops poured south across the border in June 1950.
Although South Korea received the armed support of the US, within months these were cornered in the tip of the Korean Peninsula. A later invasion pushed the North Korea troops back north, but, again, the US and South Korean troops were surprised by a North Korean and Chinese attack. After that, the war would descend into a lengthy battle of attrition and Seoul would change hands four times.
Ultimately, 21 countries of the United Nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia and Turkey supported South Korea in the conflict. The result of the conflict saw the border return to where it was before fighting broke out: the 38th Parallel.
The Korean War is a fascinating account of this conflict, from its causes in the history of the Far East and the early Cold War through to battles such as Inchon, from the war in the air to the war of attrition, and from the descent into stalemate to the diplomacy that brought about its end.
Accessibly written, The Korean War is a highly illustrated, balanced account of the political, military and ideological conflict.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 186 x 244 x 22mm | 596g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 150 photos, artworks and maps; 150 Illustrations, unspecified
  • 1838860665
  • 9781838860660
  • 2,676,923

Table of contents

Korea divided between the US-occupied south in 1945 and the Soviet-occupied north of the 38th Parallel. The early years of the Cold War after WWII.

1. The United States Enters the War
On 28 June 1950, Seoul fell to the North Korean Army. Truman moved quickly, authorizing General MacArthur to use air and naval forces to assist the ROK in slowing the NKPA advance. South Korean and US forces driven south to the Pusan Perimeter.

2. Inchon Landings
In September 1950, an amphibious UN counter-offensive was launched at Inchon, and cut off many North Korean troops. Those who escaped envelopment and capture were forced back north. UN forces rapidly approached the Yalu River-the border with China.

3. Chinese Intervention
In October 1950, mass Chinese forces crossed the Yalu and entered the war. The surprise Chinese intervention triggered a retreat of UN forces which continued until mid-1951. After these reversals of fortune, which saw Seoul change hands four times, the last two years of fighting became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th Parallel.

4. The War in the Air
North Korea was subject to a massive bombing campaign. Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their communist allies.

5. Stalemate
The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was ever signed, and according to some sources the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict.

6. After the Armistice
North-South divide in Korea on the 38th Parallel. North Korea kidnapping of South Koreans. The few who escaped from North Korea, via China, to the South. In April 2018, the leaders of North and South Korea met at the demilitarized zone and agreed to sign a treaty by the end of the year to formally end the Korean War.



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About Jeremy P. Maxwell

Jeremy P. Maxwell currently works in the Department of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth. Prior to that, he was the DPAA Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he worked in the History Department and the Dale Center for Study of War & Society in conjunction with the Defense POW/MIA Agency to locate unaccounted military personnel from WWII forward. His first book, Brotherhood in Combat: How African Americans Found Equality in Korea and Vietnam was published in the "Campaigns and Commanders" series by the University of Oklahoma Press.
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