The Best Books Of The Korean War

The Books I Picked & Why

The Hunters

By James Salter

The Hunters

Why this book?

The best novel ever written about the Korean War by one of America’s greatest-ever stylists. Salter himself was a USAF fighter pilot in the conflict, flying over a hundred combat missions. His beautiful, crystalline prose captures the taut atmosphere of those dangerous days, and the central dilemma of the main character, Captain Cleve Connell – how to combine the daring required to shoot down Soviet MIGs with the sacred duty of the ‘wingman’ in ensuring the safety of his comrades.


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I was a captive in Korea

By Philip Deane

I was a captive in Korea

Why this book?

A riveting first-hand account of the war from the buccaneering foreign correspondent of The Observer. Greek-born Deane, who served nobly in the Royal Navy in WW2, was captured by the North Koreans in Seoul in July 1950 and spent the next 33 months in captivity. He vividly chronicles those grim days as a prisoner, enduring torture and surviving the infamous ‘Death March’. There is also a great insight into the character of George Blake, his fellow internee and British spy, who was (unbeknown to Deane) actually recruited by the KGB in their period of incarceration.


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In Enemy Hands

By Larry Zellers

In Enemy Hands

Why this book?

An excellent companion piece to Deane’s book. American Zellers, newly-married, who had just arrived in South Korea in 1950 to take up a post as a Methodist missionary and teacher, was also captured by the North Koreans. Zellers gives us a fascinating insight into the minds of both prisoners and captors, and the book is a testament to his eternal hope and optimism during the many months of his brutal imprisonment..


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The Korean War

By Sir Max Hastings

The Korean War

Why this book?

Comfortably the best narrative-driven account of the war by a master of the genre. Hastings gives us superb first-hand accounts of those who fought on both sides, combining them with his characteristically incisive assessments of the motives and deeds of the leading military and political figures.


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The Korean War

By Carter Malkasian

The Korean War

Why this book?

This is the perfect primer for anyone trying to get an understanding of the Korean War. It is a concise history (just 96 pages) but is packed with essential information, laying out the background to the conflict before chronologically guiding the reader through the main battles, with clear portraits of the main protagonists along the way.


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