History Books

Michael Gibb: A Slow Walk through Jeong-dong Illustrations by Ah-young Jung Hollym, 2011, 144pp How can one write a whole book about a stroll down a street tucked in behind the Deoksu Palace? How can one spend a whole day there? Well, in part, the clue is in the title – the walk is slow. […]

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Book review: Land of Scholars (Kang Jae-eun)

by Philip Gowman 24 October 2011
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The Land of Scholars: Two Thousand Years of Korean Confucianism by Kang Jae-eun (translated from Japanese to Korean by Ha Woo-bong, then from Korean into English by Suzanne Lee) Homa & Sekey Books 2006; original Japanese version published in 2003. 515 pp Students of Korean history, and particularly of the Joseon dynasty, will inevitably at […]

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Chinese hordes and human waves: Korean War talk at the KCC

by Philip Gowman 20 October 2011
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News of an upcoming book launch event at the KCC: Chinese Hordes and Human Waves: A Personal Perspective of the Korean War 1950-1953 By Brigadier (Retd.) Brian Parritt CBE Thursday 10 November 2011 6.30pm – 9.30pm (Pre-talk Drinks at 6pm) Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK, 1-3 Strand, Grand Buildings, London WC2N 5BW (Location) Admission is […]

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Scorched Earth, Black Snow: Andrew Salmon presents his new book at the KCC

by Philip Gowman 9 June 2011
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Last year Andrew Salmon presented his book To the Last Round at the KCC, in a fascinating evening. Another year, another book. To the Last Round is a great book, and it was sad that it really took the mainstream press a while to notice and appreciate it. This time round, the blogs and the […]

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Chris Springer: North Korea Caught in Time

by Philip Gowman 5 May 2011
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Chris Springer: North Korea Caught in Time – Images of War and Reconstruction with introductory essay by Balázs Szalontai. Garnet Publishing, 2010 (148pp) In the English-speaking world, the story of the Korean war and its aftermath, if told at all, is told first from the perspective of the US and UN combatants that came to […]

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Inaugural Military History Award Goes to Book on ‘Forgotten War’

by Philip Gowman 17 November 2010
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I’m a few days late on passing this on, but congratulations to Andrew Salmon for the success of his “To the Last Round”: Aldershot Military Museum, 10th November. On the eve of Remembrance Day 2010, a book on Britain’s bloodiest – but almost completely unknown – post-1945 battle won the inaugural Hampshire Libraries (Special Collections) […]

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To the Last Round – a second look

by Philip Gowman 13 October 2010
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A year ago Jennifer Barclay reviewed Andrew Salmon’s then recently published To the Last Round (TTLR), an account of the epic British stand at the Imjin River in Korea, 1951. She confessed to not being a fan of military history, and though her review was polite you can tell she really didn’t enjoy it. Spurred […]

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Michael Breen: The Koreans

by Philip Gowman 30 December 2009
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Michael Breen: The Koreans – Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies Thomas Dunne Books, 1998 & 2004 With a commendable dose of filial piety appropriate to the subject of his book, Michael Breen dedicates his work to “Mum and Dad”. Having lived in Korea on and off since 1982, maybe some […]

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The Korean War: the Korean version

by Philip Gowman 12 August 2009
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General Paik Sun Yup: From Pusan to Panmunjom Potomac Memories of War, 2007 (original English version pub 1992) Your typical book on the Korean War centres on Generals MacArthur and Ridgeway, on the landing at Incheon and maybe (if it’s a British account) the battle at the Imjin. It’s a war fought by Americans, with […]

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The epic stand on the Imjin

by Jennifer Barclay 11 July 2009
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Jennifer Barclay, author of Meeting Mr Kim: Or How I Went to Korea and Learned to Love Kimchi, looks at Andrew Salmon’s exciting new book on the battle of Imjin River: To The Last Round (Aurum Press, June 2009) To the Last Round by Andrew Salmon gives the most exhaustive account to date of what […]

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Max Hastings: The Korean War

by Philip Gowman 25 June 2009
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Pan Macmillan, 1987 There are so many books on the Korean War, which commenced 59 years ago today, that it’s difficult to know where to start. One history which has stood the test of time is by Max Hastings. Clocking in at 35% fewer pages than David Halberstam’s recent well-received account, Max Hastings’s The Korean […]

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David Halberstam’s Korean War

by Philip Gowman 10 June 2009
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David Halberstam The Coldest Winter – America and the Korean War 718pp, Hyperion, 2007 The subtitle of David Halberstam’s magnum opus, The Coldest Winter – America and the Korean War, at first seems a bit unimaginative. But it is to the point. After all, without Truman’s decision to commit US ground forces, the whole Korean […]

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Cry Korea

by Jennifer Barclay 23 April 2009
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Jennifer Barclay reviews a contemporary war reporter’s account of the Korean war, “Cry Korea” (Reginald Thompson)

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Korea Yearbook 2008

by Philip Gowman 14 March 2009
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Korea Yearbook 2008 Eds Rüdiger Frank, James E Hoare, Patrick Köllner, Susan Pares Brill, 2009 The 2008 Korea Yearbook – Politics, Economy and Society does many of the things that a reader might expect: it contains a collection of papers which review the key developments in its chosen subject areas for the past year. At […]

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Donald Kirk on the late 90s financial crisis

by Philip Gowman 19 January 2009
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A review of Donald Kirk’s 1999 book “Korean Crisis: Unraveling of the Miracle in the IMF Era”

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The Dawn of Modern Korea

by Philip Gowman 20 July 2008
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Andrei Lankov – The Dawn of Modern Korea EunHaeng NaMu publishing, 2008 This entertaining book has, paradoxically, taken me a devil of a long time to finish. That’s not because it’s difficult. It’s because it’s the opposite. The book is co-branded with a series of articles that Andrei Lankov has been writing for the Korea […]

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A minjung history of Korea

by Philip Gowman 18 June 2008
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Korea Historical Research Association (tr Joshua van Lieu) A History of Korea Saffron Books, 2005 It’s the 1980s. In Britain, leftist ideologues such as Red Robbo, Arthur Scargill and Derek Hatton had for years been railing against the government and the establishment using turgid language pilloried in satirical magazines, TV programmes and film [1]. Anyone […]

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