Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lest We Forget - Korean War Stories

Today is the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War (1950 -1953). In recognition of the contributions and sacrifices made by those involved, I offer the following reading suggestions.

The War That Wasn't (M)
by Les Peate

"Some called it a "conflict", others a "police action." The Department of National Defence called it a "United Nations operation." To the almost 27,000 Canadians who fought and died there, Korea was most definitely a war - an unpleasant and dangerous war. These are the stories of the Canadians and their allies who served in the Korean theatre between 1950 and 1953 - and in later years." - Publisher

Canada And the Korean War (M)
by The Directorate of History and Heritage

"A Commemorative History celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. Canada and the Korean War, published by Art Global, in a series of commemorative books on Canadian military history, recounts Canada's contribution to the “Forgotten War” relating the history of the three services-the Army, Navy and Air Force-in words and images (extensive maps, photographs and War art), and reconstituting the political and diplomatic context of the time" - Publisher

Women Overseas : memoirs of the Canadian Red Cross Corps (M)
edited by Frances Martin Day, Phyllis Spence and Barbara Ladouceur

"In these Red Cross memoirs, thirty women tell their stories of volunteer work with the Canadian Red Cross Corps in overseas postings during World War Two and the Korean War. These dramatic narratives take us across oceans infested with enemy submarines to witness Canadian women on duty in the U.K., in Europe and in Asia. Laced with humour and filled with grace, these stories are a testament to the vital yet often overlooked responsibilities that thousands of women gallantly accepted for the Allied war effort. Women Overseas is a companion volume to the national bestseller Blackouts to Bright Lights: Canadian War Bride Stories." - Publisher


The Coldest Night : a novel (M)
by Robert Olmstead

A combination of war novel and love story, this work follows Henry, a young man in 1950 West Virginia, as he falls for a wealthy young woman and runs away with her to New Orleans. When their affair is violently interrupted by her family, Henry enlists in the marines. The Korean War is raging, and Henry experiences an epic battle, gruesome wounds, and unforgettable horrors. Although the book is framed by a love affair, the heart of it-and where the narrative is most gripping-is Henry's experience in combat. Olmstead (Coal Black Horse) has a spare, direct style that is most effective in the brilliant, engrossing combat descriptions and ironic marine banter. In the West Virginia scenes, the clipped conversations of the characters are more noticeably stylized. VERDICT A novel of the early 1950s and the Korean War that will appeal to readers of literary fiction. " - Library Journal

The Post-War Dream: a novel (M)
by Mitch Cullin

"After his multifaceted fictional portrait of Sherlock Holmes, A Slight Trick of the Mind, Cullin turns to a seemingly more ordinary tale of a Korean war vet haunted by both his combat experiences and the recent fatal diagnosis of his wife's ovarian cancer. One nightmare bleeds into the next as Hollis and his wife struggle to accept their inevitable separation. As Hollis stands on the golf course abutting his gated community, he is visited by a specter he recognizes as himself, or the self he would have been if he had given in to the drinking binges he took to in the immediate aftermath of the war. Instead, he journeyed to Texas to meet the family of Bill McCreedy, the loudmouth soldier he served beside, hated, and watched die. As he artfully dodges the family's questions, he sets about stealing the heart of the soldier's former fiancée. Cullin's brilliantly clear descriptions of both emotions and landscapes give this story a near-mystical feel as Hollis' life is shown to be far from ordinary" - Booklist

Once the Shore: stories (M)
by Paul Yoon

Yoon's collection of eight richly textured stories explore the themes of family, lost love, silence, alienation and the effects of the Japanese occupation and the Korean War on the poor communities of a small South Korean island. In the namesake story, a lonely young waiter connects with an American widow who has come to find the cave where her husband claimed to have carved their initials during his tour of duty in Korea. The narrator shifts between Jim coping with the loss of his big brother, a fisherman killed by a surfacing American submarine, and the sorrow of the widow. In "Among the Wreckage," aging parents Bey and Soni hope to recover the body of their son, Karo, killed in a U.S. military bombing test on what was thought to be a deserted island. The sad journey provides Bey an opportunity to examine his inability to show affection to his wife and only child. Yoon's stories are introspective and tender while also painting with bold strokes the details of the lives of the invisible.

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