The Line (Hardcover)
Combat in Korea, January-February 1951 (Battles and Campaigns)
University Press of Kentucky, 9780813125084, 324pp.
Publication Date: October 24, 2008
Many combat veterans refuse to discuss their experiences on the line. With the passage of time and the unreliability of memory, it becomes difficult to understand the true nature of war. In The Line: Combat in Korea, January--February 1951, retired Army colonel William T. Bowers uses firsthand, eyewitness accounts of the Korean War to offer readers an intimate look at the heroism and horror of the battlefront. These interviews of soldiers on the ground are particularly telling because they were conducted by Army historians immediately following combat. Known as the "forgotten war," the action in Korea lasted from June 1950 until July 1953 and was particularly savage for its combatants. During the first few months of the war, American and U.N. soldiers conducted rapid advances and hasty withdrawals, risky amphibious landings and dangerous evacuations, all while facing extreme weather conditions. In early 1951, the first winter of the war, frigid cold and severe winds complicated combat operations. As U.N. forces in Korea retreated from an oncoming Chinese and North Korean attack, U.S. commanders feared they would be forced to withdraw from occupation and admit to a Communist victory. Using interviews and extensive historical research, The Line analyzes how American troops fought the enemy to a standstill over this pivotal two-month period, reversing the course of the war. In early 1951, the war had nearly been lost, but by February's end, there existed the possibility of preserving an independent South Korea. Bowers compellingly illustrates how a series of small successes at the regiment, battalion, company, platoon, squad, and soldier levels ensured that the line was held against the North Korean enemy. The Line is the first of three volumes detailing combat during the Korean War. Each book focuses on the combat experiences of individual soldiers and junior leaders. Bowers enhances our understanding of combat by providing explanatory analysis and supplemental information from official records, giving readers a complete picture of combat operations in this understudied theatre. Through searing firsthand accounts and an intense focus on this brief but critical time frame, The Line offers new insights into U.S. military operations during the twentieth century and guarantees that the sacrifices of these courageous soldiers will not be lost to history.