Up until now, the Korean War has been the black hole of modern American history. The Coldest Winter changes that, giving readers a masterful narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides. David Halberstam charts the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu, and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides astonishingly vivid and nuanced portraits of all the major figures – Eisenhower, Truman, Acheson, Kim, and Mao, and Generals MacArthur, Almond, and Ridgway.
At the heart of the book are the individual stories of the soldiers on the front lines who were left to deal with the consequences of the dangerous misjudgements and competing agendas of powerful men. We meet them, follow them, and see some of the most dreadful battles in history through their eyes. As ever, Halberstam was concerned with the extraordinary courage and resolve of people asked to bear an extraordinary burden. Contemporary history in its most literary and luminescent form, The Coldest Winter provides crucial perspective on the Vietnam War and the events of today.