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The War for Korea: A House Burning, 1945–1950 , and: The War for Korea: They Came from the North, 1950–1951 (review)

The War for Korea: A House Burning, 1945–1950 , and: The War for Korea: They Came from the North,... Reviews 355 AllanR.Millett.The War for Korea: A House Burning, 1945­1950. Lawrence: UniversityPressofKansas,2005.xviii,348pp.Hardcover$39.95,isbn 978-0-7006-1393-9. AllanR.Millett.The War for Korea: They Came from the North, 1950­1951. Lawrence:UniversityPressofKansas,2010.xx,644pp.Hardcover$45.00, isbn978-0-7006-1709-8. TheKoreanWarwasamajorturningpointintheColdWarthathasdominated internationalpoliticssince1945.ItdidfortheColdWarwhattheJapaneseattack onPearlHarbordidforWorldWarII--globalizedit.However,foralongtime in theUnitedStates,theKoreanWarhasbeenknownasa"forgottenwar,"overshadowedbytheVietnamWar.InChina,theKoreanfightinghasremaineda highlyemotionalandstillcontroversialevent.Ithascomedowntothepopulation olderthanmiddleageinaseriesofunforgettablescenes,includingthebattleof Shangganling()(ortheBattleofSangkumryungRidgeortheBattleof TriangleHill)andtheKumsongcounteroffensive().Ithasbeen celebratedasa"goodwar"bytheCommunistgovernment,andofficiallydesignated"heroes"suchasHuangJiguang(),QiuShaoyun(),andLuo Shengjiao()aredeeplyetchedinpopularmemory.TheKoreanWar­related controversiesstillfrequentlyburstintonewsheadlines.Arecentincidentoccurred duringtheChineseleaderHuJintao'svisittotheUnitedStatesinJanuary2011.At thestatedinnerthatPresidentObamahostedinhonorofHu,theChinesepianist LangLang'sperformancestirredcontroversywhenheplayedatunethatcelebrated ChineseheroismduringtheKoreanWar.HowdidtheKoreanWarstart?Whydid theUnitedStatesandChinainterveneandconfronteachotherintheconflict?To understandthecausesanddevelopmentoftheKoreanWar,AllanMillett'sfirsttwo volumesofhisprojectedtrilogyofthatconflictprovideagoodplacetostart. Drawinguponpainstakingandexhaustiveresearchintorecentlydeclassified AmericandocumentsandawiderangeofKorean,Chinese,andRussiansources, Millettweavestogethermultipleperspectivesacrossabroadcanvaswhereopposingideologies,nationinterests,domesticpolitics,andindividualambitionscollide. AwareofthecommonpitfalloftreatingthewarsolelyfromtheAmericanperspectiveorprovidingaviewonlyaccordingtoWashington,Millettpaysattention notonlytoU.S.decisionmaking,militarydeployments,andintelligenceassessments,butalsotoCommunistcalculations,maneuvers,andpreparations.The resultisahighlyrevealingaccountofhowmutualmisperceptions,misjudgments, andprejudicespropelledacivilstrifeinKoreaintoamajorinternationalwar. A House BurningtracestheoriginsofthewartotheconclusionofWorldWar II,whenKoreawaspartitionedbytheUnitedStatesandtheSovietUnion.In makingtheirdecisiontodivideKoreaintotwozonesofoccupation,neither © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 356 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 WashingtonnorMoscowfullyunderstoodtheinternalpolitical,economic,and socialchaosandupheavalinKoreaatwar'sendortheaspirationsoftheKorean populationthemselves.ForseveralthousandyearsbeforeWorldWarII,Koreahad enjoyedahomogenoussocietywithasinglelanguage,nationalheritage,and politicalculture.FourdecadesofJapanesecolonialdominationhadfailedtoerase traditionalbehaviorpatterns,butJapan'srulehaddisruptedthedelicatelybalanced socialandeconomicstructureonthepeninsula.Asaconsequence,whenJapan surrenderedin1945,Koreawasinpoliticalturmoil.Tworevolutionarymovements,theCommunistsandtheNationalist-capitalists,emergedfromthepostliberationconflict.InthewakeofthearrivaloftheSovietandAmerican occupationforces,eachmovementsoughttheassistanceandprotectionofits foreignpatroninitseffortstocontrolthepeninsula,plungingthenationintoa partisanwarandterrorismthatclaimedthelivesofmorethan30,000Koreans. Millettcontendsthatthiscivilconflict,wagedmostlyinthesouthernpartof the peninsula,wasnotsomuchthecauseoftheKoreanWarasitsactual b eginning. Millett'sdiscussionofthebreakdownofSoviet-Americancooperationover KoreanunificationandthecreationoftwoKoreanstatesisjudicious.Hereveals thatwhentheSovietandAmericanoccupationauthoritiestransferredtheresponsibilityforinternalpolicingtonativeKoreangroups,thesegroups"emergednotin theimageoftheirofficialsponsors--theRedArmyandtheU.S.Army--butina uniqueblendofKorean,Chinese,andJapanesemilitaryculturebeneaththeir superficialadaptationtoRussianandAmericannorms"(p.103). KimIl-sung'spreparationsforwarinJune1950havelongbeenshroudedin secrecy.BenefitingfrompreviouslyunavailableRussianandChinesedocuments, MillettisabletoprovideadetailedpictureofKim'smaneuversandinteractions withhisSovietandChinesepatrons.MillettmakesclearthatthewarwasKim's idea,butblessedandassistedbyStalinandreluctantlyendorsedbyMaoasaresult ofStalin'spressure.Stalinwantedto"spreadtherisksofKimIl-sung'sinvasionby involvingtheChinese"(p.244).KimvisitedMoscowandBeijingearlyin1950, whereheobtainedweaponsfromStalinandKoreanveteransfromMao'sarmy. AlthoughMao'sstrategicprioritywasthecaptureofTaiwan,heagreedtocommit anexpeditionaryforcetoKoreaiftheUnitedStatesdeployedtroopsorsentJapanesesoldiersthere.MillettshowsthatKim'sdecisionforwardevelopedinbitsand piecesandwasnevercarefullyexaminedandcoordinatedbythethreeCommunist regimes.Millett'sfindingsconfirmtheearlierconclusionbySergeiN.Goncharov, JohnW.Lewis,andXueLitaithatKim'sgamblerepresented"recklesswar-making oftheworstkind."1 They Came from the Northstartsoffonawrongnote.Insteadofpickingup whereheleavesoffinA House BurningintermsofhisnarrativeonthedevelopmentoftheKoreanWar,Millettdigressesintoanunnecessaryandunhelpful historiographicaldetour.HesinglesoutworksbyColdWarhistorianslikeJohn Reviews 357 LewisGaddisandMelvynLefflerasexamplesofwhathecallsthe"Eurocentrism ofColdWarstudies"(p.3).MillettcriticizesGaddisforgivingshortshrifttothe KoreanWarinhisrecentlypublishedThe Cold War: A New Historyandblames Lefflerforskippingtheperiodof1949­1952inhisrecentreappraisalofthe Cold War,For the Soul of Mankind.GaddisandLeffleraregeneralistsinCold War studies,notspecialistsontheKoreanWar.IfMillettwantstohighlight h istoriographicalgapsintheKoreanWarliterature,heshouldengagethewritings andargumentsofKoreanWarspecialistssuchasWilliamStueckandBruce CumingsinsteadoffindingfaultswiththeColdWaroverviewsbyGaddisand Leffler. OnceMillettisbackonhisnarrativetrack,heisathisbest.HedeftlyreconstructstheAmerican,Soviet,andChinesecalculationsandresponsesafterKim Il-sung'sstrikeagainstSouthKoreaonJune25,1950.HeblendsbattlefieldoperationsandtacticswithColdWargeopolitics,strategy,andcivil-militaryrelations, furnishinganextensivetreatmentofthecontributionsandchallengesofintegratingnavalandairpowerwithgroundtroopsoftheUnitedNationscommandand demonstratingtheimportantroleofKoreansupportservices.Hisdiscussionofthe performanceoftheSouthKoreanforcesisexcellent. WhileMillettisonsolidgroundwhenhefocusesonAmericanpolicydeliberationsandexecution,hetendstolosehisfootingwhenheshiftstotheChinese side.AlthoughhisexplanationofMao'sdecisiontointerveneintheKoreanWaris generallyonthemark,manyofhisdescriptionsaboutthepersonalbackgroundsof theleadersandofficersoftheChinesePeople'sVolunteersForce(CPVF)are inaccurateandwrong.Forinstance,MillettclaimsthatXieFang,chiefofstaffof theCPVF,was"schooledinRussiaandtestedinbattleagainsttheGermans, 1941­1943"(p.299).XieFangstudiedinaJapanesemilitaryacademyinhisearly years,buthadneverstudiedinRussia.IndiscussingtheCPVFcommanderPeng Dehuai'srelationshipwithMao,Millettwrites:"Hehadlearnedwaysofholding MaoZedong'strust"(p.299).ThisclaimrevealsMillett'signoranceofthecomplex andconvolutedhistoryoftheChineseCommunistParty.Fromthelate1920s throughthe1940s,PengDehuaicasthislotwithMao'sopponentsseveraltimesin inner-Partyfactionalstruggles.OneofthereasonsbehindMao'sdecisiontopurge PengfromhisPartyandmilitarypositionin1959wasMao'sgrudgeagainstPeng forhisfailuretoendorsehiminPartypoliticsinthepast.Mao'sfirstchoiceforthe positionoftheCPVFcommanderin1950wasnotPeng,butLinBiao.Onlyafter LinturneddowntheappointmentdidMaoturntoPeng. Inaddition,Millettsometimescontradictshimselfinhispresentationof Chinesedecisionmaking.Earlyinthevolume,helabelsMao"anewChinese emperor"(p.45).Later,inrecountingtheChineseCommunistPolitburomeeting onOctober2,1950,overwhetherChinashouldentertheKoreanWar,Millett writes:"MaosawwarwiththeUnitedStatesinKoreaasunavoidable.His[P]arty bossesdidnot"(p.292).WhatdoesMillettmeanbyMao's"Partybosses"?Which 358 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 leadersdoesMilletreferto?WasMaonothimselfthePartyboss?Thetruthofthe matterisMaodominatedthePartyleadershipandnootherPartychiefcouldboss Maoaround. Insum,Millett'stwovolumesunderreviewareinformativeandbalanced, eventhoughtheycontainsomeregrettableerrorsintheircoverageoftheChinese sideofthestory.ThisrevieweriseagerlyawaitingMillett'sthirdvolumeonthe war.Thecompletesetwillgofartoadvanceourknowledgeofaconflictthatstill affectsEastAsianpoliticstoday.Thefirsttwovolumesrepresentapromising beginningtowardthatend. QiangZhai Qiang Zhai is a professor of history at Auburn University Montgomery. He is the author of ChinaandtheVietnamWars,1950­1975 (2000). NOTE 1. SergeiN.Goncharov,JohnW.Lewis,andXueLitai,Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

The War for Korea: A House Burning, 1945–1950 , and: The War for Korea: They Came from the North, 1950–1951 (review)

China Review International , Volume 17 (3) – Jun 15, 2010

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Reviews 355 AllanR.Millett.The War for Korea: A House Burning, 1945­1950. Lawrence: UniversityPressofKansas,2005.xviii,348pp.Hardcover$39.95,isbn 978-0-7006-1393-9. AllanR.Millett.The War for Korea: They Came from the North, 1950­1951. Lawrence:UniversityPressofKansas,2010.xx,644pp.Hardcover$45.00, isbn978-0-7006-1709-8. TheKoreanWarwasamajorturningpointintheColdWarthathasdominated internationalpoliticssince1945.ItdidfortheColdWarwhattheJapaneseattack onPearlHarbordidforWorldWarII--globalizedit.However,foralongtime in theUnitedStates,theKoreanWarhasbeenknownasa"forgottenwar,"overshadowedbytheVietnamWar.InChina,theKoreanfightinghasremaineda highlyemotionalandstillcontroversialevent.Ithascomedowntothepopulation olderthanmiddleageinaseriesofunforgettablescenes,includingthebattleof Shangganling()(ortheBattleofSangkumryungRidgeortheBattleof TriangleHill)andtheKumsongcounteroffensive().Ithasbeen celebratedasa"goodwar"bytheCommunistgovernment,andofficiallydesignated"heroes"suchasHuangJiguang(),QiuShaoyun(),andLuo Shengjiao()aredeeplyetchedinpopularmemory.TheKoreanWar­related controversiesstillfrequentlyburstintonewsheadlines.Arecentincidentoccurred duringtheChineseleaderHuJintao'svisittotheUnitedStatesinJanuary2011.At thestatedinnerthatPresidentObamahostedinhonorofHu,theChinesepianist LangLang'sperformancestirredcontroversywhenheplayedatunethatcelebrated ChineseheroismduringtheKoreanWar.HowdidtheKoreanWarstart?Whydid theUnitedStatesandChinainterveneandconfronteachotherintheconflict?To understandthecausesanddevelopmentoftheKoreanWar,AllanMillett'sfirsttwo volumesofhisprojectedtrilogyofthatconflictprovideagoodplacetostart. Drawinguponpainstakingandexhaustiveresearchintorecentlydeclassified AmericandocumentsandawiderangeofKorean,Chinese,andRussiansources, Millettweavestogethermultipleperspectivesacrossabroadcanvaswhereopposingideologies,nationinterests,domesticpolitics,andindividualambitionscollide. AwareofthecommonpitfalloftreatingthewarsolelyfromtheAmericanperspectiveorprovidingaviewonlyaccordingtoWashington,Millettpaysattention notonlytoU.S.decisionmaking,militarydeployments,andintelligenceassessments,butalsotoCommunistcalculations,maneuvers,andpreparations.The resultisahighlyrevealingaccountofhowmutualmisperceptions,misjudgments, andprejudicespropelledacivilstrifeinKoreaintoamajorinternationalwar. A House BurningtracestheoriginsofthewartotheconclusionofWorldWar II,whenKoreawaspartitionedbytheUnitedStatesandtheSovietUnion.In makingtheirdecisiontodivideKoreaintotwozonesofoccupation,neither © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 356 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 WashingtonnorMoscowfullyunderstoodtheinternalpolitical,economic,and socialchaosandupheavalinKoreaatwar'sendortheaspirationsoftheKorean populationthemselves.ForseveralthousandyearsbeforeWorldWarII,Koreahad enjoyedahomogenoussocietywithasinglelanguage,nationalheritage,and politicalculture.FourdecadesofJapanesecolonialdominationhadfailedtoerase traditionalbehaviorpatterns,butJapan'srulehaddisruptedthedelicatelybalanced socialandeconomicstructureonthepeninsula.Asaconsequence,whenJapan surrenderedin1945,Koreawasinpoliticalturmoil.Tworevolutionarymovements,theCommunistsandtheNationalist-capitalists,emergedfromthepostliberationconflict.InthewakeofthearrivaloftheSovietandAmerican occupationforces,eachmovementsoughttheassistanceandprotectionofits foreignpatroninitseffortstocontrolthepeninsula,plungingthenationintoa partisanwarandterrorismthatclaimedthelivesofmorethan30,000Koreans. Millettcontendsthatthiscivilconflict,wagedmostlyinthesouthernpartof the peninsula,wasnotsomuchthecauseoftheKoreanWarasitsactual b eginning. Millett'sdiscussionofthebreakdownofSoviet-Americancooperationover KoreanunificationandthecreationoftwoKoreanstatesisjudicious.Hereveals thatwhentheSovietandAmericanoccupationauthoritiestransferredtheresponsibilityforinternalpolicingtonativeKoreangroups,thesegroups"emergednotin theimageoftheirofficialsponsors--theRedArmyandtheU.S.Army--butina uniqueblendofKorean,Chinese,andJapanesemilitaryculturebeneaththeir superficialadaptationtoRussianandAmericannorms"(p.103). KimIl-sung'spreparationsforwarinJune1950havelongbeenshroudedin secrecy.BenefitingfrompreviouslyunavailableRussianandChinesedocuments, MillettisabletoprovideadetailedpictureofKim'smaneuversandinteractions withhisSovietandChinesepatrons.MillettmakesclearthatthewarwasKim's idea,butblessedandassistedbyStalinandreluctantlyendorsedbyMaoasaresult ofStalin'spressure.Stalinwantedto"spreadtherisksofKimIl-sung'sinvasionby involvingtheChinese"(p.244).KimvisitedMoscowandBeijingearlyin1950, whereheobtainedweaponsfromStalinandKoreanveteransfromMao'sarmy. AlthoughMao'sstrategicprioritywasthecaptureofTaiwan,heagreedtocommit anexpeditionaryforcetoKoreaiftheUnitedStatesdeployedtroopsorsentJapanesesoldiersthere.MillettshowsthatKim'sdecisionforwardevelopedinbitsand piecesandwasnevercarefullyexaminedandcoordinatedbythethreeCommunist regimes.Millett'sfindingsconfirmtheearlierconclusionbySergeiN.Goncharov, JohnW.Lewis,andXueLitaithatKim'sgamblerepresented"recklesswar-making oftheworstkind."1 They Came from the Northstartsoffonawrongnote.Insteadofpickingup whereheleavesoffinA House BurningintermsofhisnarrativeonthedevelopmentoftheKoreanWar,Millettdigressesintoanunnecessaryandunhelpful historiographicaldetour.HesinglesoutworksbyColdWarhistorianslikeJohn Reviews 357 LewisGaddisandMelvynLefflerasexamplesofwhathecallsthe"Eurocentrism ofColdWarstudies"(p.3).MillettcriticizesGaddisforgivingshortshrifttothe KoreanWarinhisrecentlypublishedThe Cold War: A New Historyandblames Lefflerforskippingtheperiodof1949­1952inhisrecentreappraisalofthe Cold War,For the Soul of Mankind.GaddisandLeffleraregeneralistsinCold War studies,notspecialistsontheKoreanWar.IfMillettwantstohighlight h istoriographicalgapsintheKoreanWarliterature,heshouldengagethewritings andargumentsofKoreanWarspecialistssuchasWilliamStueckandBruce CumingsinsteadoffindingfaultswiththeColdWaroverviewsbyGaddisand Leffler. OnceMillettisbackonhisnarrativetrack,heisathisbest.HedeftlyreconstructstheAmerican,Soviet,andChinesecalculationsandresponsesafterKim Il-sung'sstrikeagainstSouthKoreaonJune25,1950.HeblendsbattlefieldoperationsandtacticswithColdWargeopolitics,strategy,andcivil-militaryrelations, furnishinganextensivetreatmentofthecontributionsandchallengesofintegratingnavalandairpowerwithgroundtroopsoftheUnitedNationscommandand demonstratingtheimportantroleofKoreansupportservices.Hisdiscussionofthe performanceoftheSouthKoreanforcesisexcellent. WhileMillettisonsolidgroundwhenhefocusesonAmericanpolicydeliberationsandexecution,hetendstolosehisfootingwhenheshiftstotheChinese side.AlthoughhisexplanationofMao'sdecisiontointerveneintheKoreanWaris generallyonthemark,manyofhisdescriptionsaboutthepersonalbackgroundsof theleadersandofficersoftheChinesePeople'sVolunteersForce(CPVF)are inaccurateandwrong.Forinstance,MillettclaimsthatXieFang,chiefofstaffof theCPVF,was"schooledinRussiaandtestedinbattleagainsttheGermans, 1941­1943"(p.299).XieFangstudiedinaJapanesemilitaryacademyinhisearly years,buthadneverstudiedinRussia.IndiscussingtheCPVFcommanderPeng Dehuai'srelationshipwithMao,Millettwrites:"Hehadlearnedwaysofholding MaoZedong'strust"(p.299).ThisclaimrevealsMillett'signoranceofthecomplex andconvolutedhistoryoftheChineseCommunistParty.Fromthelate1920s throughthe1940s,PengDehuaicasthislotwithMao'sopponentsseveraltimesin inner-Partyfactionalstruggles.OneofthereasonsbehindMao'sdecisiontopurge PengfromhisPartyandmilitarypositionin1959wasMao'sgrudgeagainstPeng forhisfailuretoendorsehiminPartypoliticsinthepast.Mao'sfirstchoiceforthe positionoftheCPVFcommanderin1950wasnotPeng,butLinBiao.Onlyafter LinturneddowntheappointmentdidMaoturntoPeng. Inaddition,Millettsometimescontradictshimselfinhispresentationof Chinesedecisionmaking.Earlyinthevolume,helabelsMao"anewChinese emperor"(p.45).Later,inrecountingtheChineseCommunistPolitburomeeting onOctober2,1950,overwhetherChinashouldentertheKoreanWar,Millett writes:"MaosawwarwiththeUnitedStatesinKoreaasunavoidable.His[P]arty bossesdidnot"(p.292).WhatdoesMillettmeanbyMao's"Partybosses"?Which 358 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 leadersdoesMilletreferto?WasMaonothimselfthePartyboss?Thetruthofthe matterisMaodominatedthePartyleadershipandnootherPartychiefcouldboss Maoaround. Insum,Millett'stwovolumesunderreviewareinformativeandbalanced, eventhoughtheycontainsomeregrettableerrorsintheircoverageoftheChinese sideofthestory.ThisrevieweriseagerlyawaitingMillett'sthirdvolumeonthe war.Thecompletesetwillgofartoadvanceourknowledgeofaconflictthatstill affectsEastAsianpoliticstoday.Thefirsttwovolumesrepresentapromising beginningtowardthatend. QiangZhai Qiang Zhai is a professor of history at Auburn University Montgomery. He is the author of ChinaandtheVietnamWars,1950­1975 (2000). NOTE 1. SergeiN.Goncharov,JohnW.Lewis,andXueLitai,Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao,

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China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jun 15, 2010

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