Cover image for Drawing the line : the Korean War, 1950-1953
Drawing the line : the Korean War, 1950-1953
Whelan, Richard.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown, [1990]

Physical Description:
xvi, 428 pages ; 25 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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DS918 .W46 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
DS918 .W46 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The author describes the causes, events, and consequences of the Korean War. In his analysis, the war had momentous repercussions for NATO, the UN, Russia, China, and the arms race. And it provided the prologue to America's next war in Asia - Vietnam.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Once known as the "forgotten war" for the precipitous way it seemed to have faded from public memory, the Korean War has in recent years received a fair amount of long-overdue attention from scholars and writers of military history (see The Korean War, by Max Hastings [BKL O 15 87], and Russell Spurr's Enter the Dragon [BKL S 15 89]). Whelan's book focuses primarily on the political, or rather, geopolitical aspects of that conflict. (Readers seeking a detailed narrative of Korean War campaigns and combat will have to go elsewhere.) Thoughtful readers won't be disappointed with this effort, however--it's at least as absorbing and stimulating as any blood-and-thunder account. The author's approach is thematically driven by the notions that the Korean War was essentially a world war in miniature and that, for all its casualities and inconclusiveness, it should be judged a victory by the anti-Communist coalition that fought it. Notes, bibliography; to be indexed. --Steve Weingartner

Publisher's Weekly Review

Whelan ( Robert Capa ) argues that the Korean War was a turning point in current history with momentous repercussions worldwide: the conflict consolidated the international anti-Communist coalition and led to a quadrupling of the U.S. military budget, thus setting off the arms race. Whelan counters the popular view that the war was a failed American effort by demonstrating that the U.S. accomplished what it set out to do, i.e., prevent a Communist conquest of South Korea. The author presents a well-researched, gracefully written history of the conflict with emphasis on the political rather than the military aspect, and offers fresh insight into President Truman's decision to intervene. In an epilogue, he analyzes developments relating to the Korean peninsula since the 1953 truce. He concludes that the two Koreas ``must eventually sign a peace treaty, establish full diplomatic and economic relations, and join the U.N.'' Photos. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Whelan is doubtless correct in asserting that the vast majority of Americans know little more about the Korean War than what they have gleaned from M*A*S*H. And he is certainly correct in emphasizing the importance of this war, which President Truman initially called a ``police action.'' There is no shortage of books on the war--Whelan's bibliography runs to nearly 200 items. Among recent studies of great merit are Max Hastings's The Korean War ( LJ 12/87) and Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings Korea: The Unknown War (Pantheon, 1988). Hastings has no peer as a writer of battlefield history, and the Halliday and Cumings volume is both challenging and controversial. Drawing the Line does not measure up to either of these, but it is nonetheless a well-informed, well-balanced work written in a lucid if bland style. Recommended to general readers and informed laypersons.-- John H. Boyle, California State Univ., Chico (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

It has been 40 years since North Korean tanks stunned the world by crossing the 38th parallel and invading the South. Whelan has produced an excellent study concentrating on the political and international aspects of the conflict. Indeed the first eight chapters are devoted to Korea before the war. Whelan's analysis of Russian-Japanese rivalry in northeast Asia is particularly useful in helping the reader understand why the invasion took place. The author writes well, has sufficient documentation, an adequate bibliography, and a good index. The photographs and maps prove useful. One regrets that there are no interviews with participants who were soon to die. Other recent books exist on the Korean War. Clay Blair's The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950-53 (CH, Jul'88), is an excellent but very detailed account concentrating on the military aspects of the war. Max Hastings has produced the best popular history of the war in his The Korean War (CH, Jul'88). Whelan's contribution is distinct in its focus on political rather than military events. He presents the best analysis of the war within the context of the global Cold War. Read Blair and Hastings for the "who-what-when-where"; read Whelan for the "why." Upper-division undergraduates and above. -M. O'Donnell, College of Staten Island, CUNY