Cover image for The Marines of autumn : a novel of the Korean War
The Marines of autumn : a novel of the Korean War
Brady, James, 1928-2009.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
viii, 274 pages : maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
"Thomas Dunne books."
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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ISBN: 0312262000 TITLE: Marines of Autumn AUTHOR: Brady, JamesEXCERPT: Chapter One"MacArthur will be sprinting north. You know how he is; you know about the ego." The Marines, hard men and realists, had never heard of the Chosin Reservoir, but they did not believe the war was over. Not yet. Nor did they truly trust MacArthur.When they "liberated" (a headline writer''s word no Marine ever used) Seoul, the South Korean capital, MacArthur flew in for ceremonies with that old fart Syngman Rhee, accompanied by honor guards of spit-and-polish South Korean troops who had run away and hadn''t fought. MacArthur and President Rhee accepted the city as explorers returning from the South Pole once had received the keys of New York from Mayor La Guardia.It was all bullshit. In the two or three days after MacArthur and Rhee took the salute, another two hundred Marines were killed in the house-to-house fighting that continued after Seoul was "liberated."Within a few weeks MacArthur would be announcing that "the boys," his phrase, might be "home for Christmas."In the early autumn of 1950MacArthur''s image had rarely shone as brightly. At his vice-regal headquarters in Tokyo he could look back on the extraordinary events of September, when a battered American and South Korean army pulled itself together at Pusan, swept ashore at Inchon, recaptured Seoul, and burst north to the Thirty-eighth Parallel toward victory. MacArthur had never gone back to America after defeating the Japanese, and if he could win this new war swiftly, he would at last come home and on a giddy wave of popularity. The Chicago Tribune and the Hearst papers were already pushing his cause for the 1952 Republican nomination for president. If he could beat out colorless Senator Taft and the politically equivocal, naive Eisenhower, well, who knew? But he had to win this latest war first, and quickly, settling the affair before winter closed down. Even the general, with a solemn regard for his own divinity, knew you could not fight a modern war in the mountains during a north Asian winter. As his troops crossed the Parallel into North Korea there were warnings, diplomatic and military, that Communist China would not idly permit its Korean ally to be crushed or tolerate a UN, largely American, army installed on China''s border at theYalu River. MacArthur, out of pride or ambition (who knew which dominated?), ignored the warnings and at the end of September divided his triumphant army and ordered it to push rapidly north, one column to the east, the other column to the west of a spine of mountains through which there were no roads, only trails and footpaths.He did not know that in what was then called Peking, on October 4, Mao Tse-tung ordered Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) to intervene, secretly at first, filtering across the Yalu by night and hiding in the North Korean hills until sufficient force had built up, out of sight of marauding American planes (each man carried a sort of bedsheet as camouflage in the snow), to fall upon and destroy MacArthur''s two armies fatally divided by mountains. There were rules about splitting your army in two like this, with mountains or swamps or deserts separating one column from the other. But Douglas MacArthur or, "The General," as Jean MacArthur invariably called her husband, was an officer whose legend was founded on broken rules.The First Marine Division was to spearhead the eastern half of the UN army, what was called X Corps, in its sprint to the Yalu River and to China.Perhaps Omar Bradley should have spoken up. Later (but only later) he said of MacArthur''s plan to divide the army, "To me it doesn''t make sense the enemy himself could not have concocted a more diabolical scheme." Bradley was chairman of the Joint Chiefs.Joe Collins, "Lightning Joe," admitted he was "worried." He was army Chief of Staff. But as Matt Ridgway said later: "No one was questioning the judgment of the man who had just worked a military miracle," at Inchon, w

Author Notes

Journalist and author James Brady was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 15, 1928. He graduated from Manhattan College in 1950. During the Korean War, he served in the Marine Corps and was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V for a firefight against the Chinese army on May 31, 1952 in November 2001.

He held numerous jobs in journalism including the publisher of Women's Wear Daily from 1964 to 1971 and writer of the celebrity profile column In Step With for Parade magazine for almost 25 years. He also wrote numerous fiction and nonfiction works including The Coldest War (1990), Further Lane (1997), The Marines of Autumn (2000), The Scariest Place in the World: A Marine Returns to North Korea (2005), and Why Marines Fight (2007). He died on January 26, 2009 at the age of 80.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Brady, familiar from his celebrity interviews in Parade, turns here to more serious matters: the killing grounds of America's forgotten war. A combat veteran of the Korean "conflict," he writes of the low-tech slaughter that took place at "the (expletive deleted) Frozen Chosin." Marine Captain Tom Verity is a widower with a young daughter who teaches Chinese history at Georgetown University. He is called up from his quiet mourning and thrust into the middle of a bad scene about to get worse. When the Chinese pour over the border, America experiences one of the worst retreats in its military history, and MacArthur sees his presidential dream go up in the smoke of battle. But the focus here is on the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives as well as their dreams. Brady tells it like it was and tells it extremely well. --Budd Arthur

Publisher's Weekly Review

Columnist and author Brady (The Coldest War) has written the most powerful and stunning war novel since 1997's The Black Flower by Howard Bahr. In 1950, soon after the start of the Korean War, the men of the 1st Marine Division found themselves surrounded by 100,000 Communist Chinese soldiers at the famous battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Brady is a Marine veteran of the forgotten war, and he writes colorfully and convincingly about how 20,000 Americans fought their way out of the Communist trap in the most bitterly cold winter weather ever experienced on the Korean peninsula. Reserve Marine Capt. Tom Verity, a young widower and a single parent, is recalled to active duty in the autumn of 1950; he is a Chinese linguist whose skills are badly needed. Gen. Douglas MacArthur has unwisely sent the Marine division into North Korea with orders to march to the Chinese border; despite MacArthur's flippant assurances, the Marines suspect the Red Chinese are waiting for them in the Taebaek Mountains. Verity is to join the forward battalion and gather intelligence for the Marine brass. Aided by conscientious, capable Gunnery Sergeant Tate and jeep-stealing, wise-cracking Corporal Izzo, Verity's efforts pay off, but it is too late. The Communists attack relentlessly, day and night, and with temperatures down to 25 degrees below zero, everyone freezes. The American withdrawal back to the seaport of Wonsan is a horrific nightmare of fatigue, frostbite, wounds and death. After days of marching and fighting, Verity, Tate and Izzo are about to reach safety when a single sniper's bullet changes all their fates. Brady's narrative captures the viciousness of combat, the brutal weather conditions, the forbidding terrain and the Marines' display of extraordinary courage, sacrifice, and valor. Incisively mapping out the fine lines between hope and despair, heroism and cowardice, this moving novel is a model of historical and moral accuracy. (June) FYI: This is just one of several upcoming novels commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Chosin Reservoir campaign. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Having captured the Korean War in his memoir, The Coldest War, Brady now tries fiction. His hero, Capt. Tom Verity, goes to Korea to monitor Chinese radio transmissions but ends up campaigning with MacArthur. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Through vivid writing, readers observe and almost feel the cold, filth, and deadly danger of the Chosin Reservoir campaign, in which several regiments of Chinese troops unexpectedly appeared in North Korea as the Americans and South Koreans moved North to "win the war by Christmas," 1950. The undermanned American troops were trapped in the mountains, necessitating a retreat while under constant attack. The only road ran along one narrow defile, slippery with ice and intermittent new snow; Chinese troops paralleled the retreat on the opposite side of the crest. Our troops were thus strung out for miles, traveling slowly and suffering from the effects of below-zero temperatures as well as sniping and/or attacks from the Chinese. Brady describes episodes of heroism and bravery among the long-suffering men, as they slowly make their way south to safety. This is a Marine story, and neither MacArthur, the Army, nor the South Korean troops come off looking very well. The hero is Marine Reserve Captain Thomas Verity, called upon for a short stint in intelligence work because he grew up in China and speaks the language. His character is loosely based on Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island, who served in this campaign. The flashbacks of Verity with his wife and daughter in Georgetown don't ring quite true or seem necessary, but they don't mar the overall effect, which is to make readers appreciate all soldiers' sacrifices and heroism.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.