Three books being read right now…
The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam. Halberstam is a decent writer, but do we really need an in depth discussion of Douglas MacArthur’s mom to understand the war? I’m about 150 pages in, and so far, only about 30 pages have dealt directly with the war. The background information on the political situation facing the administration and the foibles of MacArthur are interesting, but the book presents itself as a war history. That’s a bit misleading. But when he does discuss the war, it’s pretty good:
Colonel John (Mike) Michaelis, the first regimental commander to lead his troops well there, was appalled by the performance of most of them in those early months. He told Robert (Pepper) Martin from the Saturday Evening Post in early October: “When they started out, they couldn’t shoot. They didn’t know their weapons. They had not had enough training in plain old-fashioned musketry. They’d spent a lot of time listening to lectures on the differences between communism and Americanism and not enough time crawling on their bellies on maneuvers with live ammunition singing over them. They’d been nursed and coddled, told to drive safely, buy War Bonds, to give to the Red Cross, to avoid VD, to write home to mother—when someone ought to have been telling them how to clean a machine gun when it jams.” They were, he added, so roadbound that they had almost lost the use of their legs—“Send out a patrol on a scouting mission and they load up in a three quarter ton truck and start riding down the highway.”
As a former Wolfhound, I’m required by law to admire, if not revere, COL Michaelis.
The complaints of the colonel remind me of the watchword of the Army’s leadership during the Clinton era drawdown- “No more Task Force Smith’s!” For the most part, they were successful in that goal.
Again, only about 150 pages in so far. It’s a pretty damning indictment of the extreme level of communist penetration of our government during the 1930s and 1940s. So many of the agents were not spying, per se, as they didn’t have to. They were setting policy. We’ll see how the rest of the book goes.
Last book on my nightstand right now-
I’m about halfway through. Interesting to read as it deal with a lot of smaller British actions that the American reader doesn’t usually come across. Further, while I’m used to American authors belittling Montgomery, Hart is harshly critical of him as well (critical, but not belittling). In fact, he seems pretty unimpressed with a good deal of British generalship in the first half. We’ll see if they go on to redeem themselves.
What’s on your nightstand?