Mao's Generals Remember Korea

Edited and translated by Xiaobing Li, Allan R. Millett, and Bin Yu

Fifty years after the Korean conflict, what is a forgotten war for some Americans is an aching memory for China. With over a million casualties out of the three million soldiers sent into battle, that war looms as large for the People's Republic of China (PRC)-barely a year old when North Korea invaded the South-as World War II does for most other countries. It was the first international war fought by the Chinese Communist regime to halt counterrevolution; it was also a war that the Chinese fully expected to win, by virtue of not only superiority of numbers but also their soldiers' superior "political quality."

This book presents a mosaic of memoirs by key Chinese military commanders from that war, drawing not only on their personal papers but also on still-classified archives and on Chinese-language sources unavailable in English. It offers an uncensored, behind-the-scenes story of the Communist campaign, from the decision to intervene through the truce negotiations, that discloses new information on such facets of the war as strategy and tactics, use of propaganda, and mobilization of the Chinese population. It also reveals the generals' concerns about the possible use of nuclear force and the alleged use of biological and chemical weapons by the United States.

“Three eminent scholars provide one of the best compilations of high-level Chinese recollections of the ‘Forgotten War.’ . . . The multifaceted nature of the memoirs selected gives the reader a 360-degree operational view of Chinese efforts to counter UN and US actions in the Korean War. . . . Military historians, serving officers, and designers of future military campaigns should read this essential volume carefully because it provides a rare glimpse into the ‘troubles of the enemy.’

—Air & Space Power Journal

“A welcome addition to the ever-growing corpus of literature in the field, shedding new light on the strategic thinking, ideological inclination, military planning, and execution of the ‘other side’ in the conflict.

—Journal of Military History
See all reviews...

The book contains a wealth of new materials on the Chinese intervention, including combat operations, logistics, political control, field command, and communications. Among those whose recollections are recorded, then-acting Chief of Staff Nie Rongzhen reveals how party leadership decided on intervention, Commander in Chief Peng Dehuai provides personal accounts of major battles and communications with Mao, and General Yang Dezhi shares secrets of Chinese military strategy and tactics, discussing how the army orchestrated each battle to contend with the better equipped UN forces. The volume also features an updated short history of the PRC's conduct of the war based on Chinese sources, plus rare photos from Chinese archives that put readers behind the lines from the Chinese side.

Mao's Generals Remember Korea demonstrates that the PRC continues to draw military, diplomatic, and strategic lessons from the war it fought fifty years ago with the world's most powerful military force. It offers valuable insight into the Chinese way of war and the military mind of Mao that will be a rich resource for Asian and military scholars.

About the Author

Xiaobing Li is professor of history and geography at the University of Central Oklahoma and president of the Association of Chinese Professors of Social Science in the United States. He is coeditor of a number of books on China, including Social Transition in China, Interpreting U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations, and China and the United States: A New Cold War History. Allan R. Millett is Mason Professor of Military History at the Mershon Center, Ohio State University and author of Semper Fidelis. Bin Yu is professor of political science at Wittenberg University and a former soldier in the People's Liberation Army, Beijing Military Region (1968-1972). He is the editor of The Northeastern Pacific Quadrangle Fifty Years After and Dynamics and Dilemma: Mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong Relations in a Changing World.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series