2 out of 4 stars
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Unremembered Victory is written by Dennis H. Klein with the intention of drawing people’s attention to the Second Korean War story so that it becomes American history. Surprisingly, I have come across three books dedicated to this theme. Has the country really forgotten it? Perhaps the story has not been in the news as much as the Vietnam War, but it is certainly better known than many other wars around the world.
The book begins with testimonials of Korean and Vietnam War veterans who are happy to see it published. It includes an interesting narrative of the experience of two GIs guarding the Anti-Infiltration Fence (AIF) that runs across the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This zone separates North Korea and South Korea. The author describes how the North Korean commandos infiltrate into the South, in batches, as the two GIs watch from their hiding place with a mobile phone that is not working. Surprise and tension raised my adrenaline level, and the event was impressed on my mind. I wondered whether mobile-phone technology existed during the war. This is the part of the book that I liked most because of the suspense.
In the beginning, I was quite confused and was reading the book from the perspective of the First Korean War (1950-53). I was also unsure about which countries were supporting North Korea and South Korea. Then I read the DMZ War summary in Appendix A, which helped me understand that it was the Second Korean War (1966-69). The GI, in general, had low morale due to several years of inactivity after the First Korean War. The Vietnam War led to the defeat of the US Military. Klein describes the sad events in the life of America during that period and states that the courage displayed by American GIs (stationed in South Korea) was the “singular good-news.” He sees the events as a story of “grace, honor, and triumph” despite the extremely harsh climate. The author believes that America needs to acknowledge the DMZ War veterans, but this has not been forthcoming. He often compares it with the recognition received by Vietnam War veterans.
I appreciate the author’s concern to make the story known. However, he seems to exaggerate America’s indifference to their contribution. Klein’s anger is apparent from his sarcastic tone. He sounds subjective, forgetting that the book has an international audience whose world does not revolve around this topic, although he himself is convinced that the contribution of the 4,000 US GI war heroes saved the world from a nuclear World War III in 1968.
Regarding the presentation, I was annoyed with words breaking into a new line when the text could easily have been justified. The font makes the text very dense and impacts clarity. The meaning of “GI” is not mentioned anywhere and initially left me confused. From what I understand, it refers to “ordinary soldiers.” The use of curse words in their conversations could have been avoided. On a positive note, the author inserts lyrics of songs after every chapter, which some readers may like to sing. Overall, what I most disliked is that the book seems difficult to understand and needs to be edited. I found many grammatical errors that were distracting and forced me to read sentences two or three times to grasp what the author was trying to convey.
For all the reasons stated above, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. Information about the Korean DMZ War is available online. It is easy to read and understand, although it may not be in as much detail as you will find in Unremembered Victory. I may not recommend it to anyone, but perhaps people in the armed forces would like to read this book.
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