The War for Korea, 1945-1950
A House Burning
Modern War Studies
Sales Date: February 27, 2015
384 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: February 2015
- Published: June 2015
Choice Outstanding Title
When the major powers sent troops to the Korean peninsula in June of 1950, it supposedly marked the start of one of the last century’s bloodiest conflicts. Allan Millett, however, reveals that the Korean War actually began with partisan clashes two years earlier and had roots in the political history of Korea under Japanese rule, 1910–1945.
The first in a new two-volume history of the Korean War, Millett’s study offers the most comprehensive account of its causes and early military operations. Millett traces the war’s origins to the post-liberation conflict between two revolutionary movements, the Marxist-Leninists and the Nationalist-capitalists. With the U.S.-Soviet partition of Korea following World War II, each movement, now with foreign patrons, asserted its right to govern the peninsula, leading directly to the guerrilla warfare and terrorism in which more than 30,000 Koreans died. Millett argues that this civil strife, fought mostly in the South, was not so much the cause of the Korean War as its actual beginning.
Millett describes two revolutions locked in irreconcilable conflict, offering an even-handed treatment of both Communists and capitalists-nationalists. Neither movement was a model of democracy. He includes Korean, Chinese, and Russian perspectives on this era, provides the most complete account of the formation of the South Korean army, and offers new interpretations of the U.S. occupation of Korea, 1945–1948.
Millett’s history redefines the initial phase of the war in Asian terms. His book shows how both internal forces and international pressures converged to create the Korean War, a conflict that still shapes the politics of Asia.
“This multi-faceted, detailed, and well documented book untangles the roots of the continuing crises on the Korean peninsula. . . . Allan Millett recounts and analyzes in detail the five vital years that led to the Korean War, a conflict whose unfinished business bedevils U.S. foreign policy to this day. He clarifies the politics of the Korean peninsula, the Kim family’s unending reign in the North, and the political and economic transformation of the South into a prosperous democracy.”—Michigan War Studies Review
“Millett’s diligence in pursuing and unearthing source material is impressive. . . . His persistent success in hunting down the papers of American military advisors, his interviews with those individuals, and data gleaned from unpublished papers all have contributed to the creation of a compelling and comprehensive diplomatic-military history of the contested creation of the Republic of Korea. . . . [This] is a big and exciting work, and the author’s expertise in and ardor for the matter is well conveyed.”—Korean Studies
“An excellent historical study in nation-building which could be of great use in the coming years in the Middle East.”—H-Net Reviews
“The book is a major contribution to the literature. . . . Millett recounts this complicated and confusing story with clarity, precision, and the punch and understanding of military concepts that remind the reader that he is a Marine colonel as well as an accomplished scholar.”—Parameters
“A superb, path-breaking, and highly revealing narrative of the Cold War’s first major ‘hot war.’”—Chen Jian, author of China’s Road to the Korean War
“Millett is one of the very best military historians writing today and his book far surpasses any other in describing and analyzing the military dimensions of events leading up to North Korea’s attack on South Korea in June 1950.”—William Stueck, author of The Korean War in World History
“Authoritative and compelling. . . . A must read for policy makers and all informed citizens interested in the fate of the Korean peninsula.”—James T. Laney, former U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea and coauthor of U.S. Foreign Policy toward North Korea: Next Steps
List of Abbreviations
1. The Years of Division, 1919-1945
2. Defeat and Division: Korea on the Brink, 1945-1945
3. Putting Korea Together Again: The Rise and Fall of the US-USSR Joint Commission, 1946-1947
4. The Moscow Agreement Is Abandoned, 1947
5. The United Nations Enters the Struggle, 1947-1948
6. The Republic of Korea Enters the World and Almost Dies Stillborn, 1948-1949
7. “We Are Fighting for Our Lives!” 1949-1950
8. The Once and Future Invasion, 1949-1950
Epilogue and Prologue, June 1950
Appendix: The Romanization of Korean and Chinese