Remembered Prisoners of a Forgotten War
An Oral History of Korean War POWs
By Lewis H. Carlson
(St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312286842, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2002
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The Korean War POW remains the most maligned victim of all American wars. For nearly half a century, the media, general public, and even scholars have described hundreds of these prisoners as "brainwashed" victims who uncharacteristically caved in to their Communist captors or, even worse, as turncoats who betrayed their fellow soldiers. In either case, these boys apparently lacked the "right stuff" required of our brave sons.
Here, at long last, is a chance to hear the true story of these courageous men in their own words-- a story that, until now, has gone largely untold. Dr. Carlson debunks many of the popular myths of Korean War POWs in this devastating oral history that's as compelling and moving as it is informative. From the Tiger Death March to the paranoia here at home, Korean POWs suffered injustices on a scale few can comprehend. More than 40 percent of the 7,140 Americans taken prisoner died in captivity, and as haunting tales of the survivors unfold, it becomes clear that the goal of these men was simply to survive under the most terrible conditions.
Each survivor's story is a unique and personal experience, from missionary teacher Larry Zeller's imprisonment in the death cells of P'yongyang and his first encounter with the infamous killer known as The Tiger, to Rubin Townsend's daring escape from a death march by jumping off a bridge in a blinding snowstorm. From capture to forced marches, isolation, permanent camps, and torture, Remembered Prisoners of a Forgotten War is one of the most fascinating and disturbing books on the Korean War in years-- and a brutally honest account of the Korean POW experience, in the survivors' own words.
Lewis H. Carlson is a prolific author, a retired professor of history, and the director of American Studies at Western Michigan University. His books include We Were Each Other's Prisoners: An Oral History of World War II American and German Prisoners of War and Tales of Gold: Olympic Stories as Told by Those Who Lived Them. Dr. Carlson lives in Michigan and Texas.