Cover image for Rethinking the Korean war : a new diplomatic and strategic history
Rethinking the Korean war : a new diplomatic and strategic history
Stueck, William Whitney, 1945-
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 285 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1690 Lexile.
Format :


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DS918 .A555 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Fought on what to Westerners was a remote peninsula in northeast Asia, the Korean War was a defining moment of the Cold War. It militarized a conflict that previously had been largely political and economic. And it solidified a series of divisions--of Korea into North and South, of Germany and Europe into East and West, and of China into the mainland and Taiwan--which were to persist for at least two generations. Two of these divisions continue to the present, marking two of the most dangerous political hotspots in the post-Cold War world. The Korean War grew out of the Cold War, it exacerbated the Cold War, and its impact transcended the Cold War.

William Stueck presents a fresh analysis of the Korean War's major diplomatic and strategic issues. Drawing on a cache of newly available information from archives in the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union, he provides an interpretive synthesis for scholars and general readers alike. Beginning with the decision to divide Korea in 1945, he analyzes first the origins and then the course of the conflict. He takes into account the balance between the international and internal factors that led to the war and examines the difficulty in containing and eventually ending the fighting. This discussion covers the progression toward Chinese intervention as well as factors that both prolonged the war and prevented it from expanding beyond Korea. Stueck goes on to address the impact of the war on Korean-American relations and evaluates the performance and durability of an American political culture confronting a challenge from authoritarianism abroad.

Stueck's crisp yet in-depth analysis combines insightful treatment of past events with a suggestive appraisal of their significance for present and future.

Author Notes

William Stueck is Distinguished Research Professor of History at the University of Georgia.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Korea, especially North Korea, has been the subject of many recent headlines. Hence, this work arrives at a most propitious time. Stueck (Univ. of Georgia; The Korean War: An International History, CH, Feb'96) does not attempt to cover the major battlefield events; his emphasis is on the broader strategic, diplomatic, and political issues that preoccupied the three great powers--the US, USSR, and China. Newly released archives in all three countries justify this work. Stueck supports the traditional view that the chief culprit was Josef Stalin, and he rejects revisionists' theories that this was primarily a civil war. The author clearly is writing for those well versed in the war. The novice would do well to read Max Hastings's The Korean War (CH, Jul'88) to learn the who, what, when, and where, and Stueck's account for the why, of this crucial conflict. A comprehensive index, excellent maps, clear and appropriate photographs, and thorough documentation are strong points. One keen disappointment is the lack of a bibliography. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. For large public and university libraries. M. O'Donnell formerly, CUNY College of Staten Island

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Part I Origins
Chapter 1 The Coming of the Cold War to Koreap. 11
Chapter 2 Syngman Rhee, the Truman Doctrine, and American Policy toward Korea, 1947-1948p. 39
Chapter 3 Why the Korean War, Not the Korean Civil War?p. 61
Part II Course
Chapter 4 The Road to Chinese Intervention, July-November 1950p. 87
Chapter 5 Why the War Did Not Expand beyond Korea, November 1950-July 1951p. 118
Chapter 6 Negotiating an Armistice, July 1951-July 1953: Why Did It Take So Long?p. 143
Part III Broader Issues
Chapter 7 The Korean War and the American Relationship with Koreap. 185
Chapter 8 The Korean War as a Challenge to American Democracyp. 213
Abbreviationsp. 241
Notesp. 245
Indexp. 277