On Desperate Ground by Hampton Sides
“On October 15, 1950, the vainglorious General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of U.N. troops in Korea, convinced President Harry Truman that the communist forces would be utterly defeated by Thanksgiving. The Chinese, he said with near certainty, would not intervene in the war.
As he was speaking, 300,000 Chinese soldiers began crossing the border. Led by the 13,000 men of the 1st Marine Division, the Americans moved far north into the trap Mao had set for the arrogant MacArthur at the Chosin Reservoir. What followed was one of the most heroic – and harrowing – operations in American military history. Faced with annihilation, and temperatures plunging to 20 degrees below zero, the surrounded Marines fought through the enemy forces with ferocity, ingenuity and nearly unimaginable courage.
Hampton Sides’s superb account of the battle relies on years of archival research and interviews with scores of Marines and Koreans who survived the siege. While expertly chronicling the follies of the American leaders, this is an immediate, grunt’s-eye view of history, enthralling in its narrative pace and powerful in its portrayal of what ordinary men are capable of in the most extreme circumstances.”