100 books like The Korean War

By Max Hastings,

Here are 100 books that The Korean War fans have personally recommended if you like The Korean War. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Hunters

Roger Hermiston Author Of Two Minutes to Midnight: 1953 - The Year of Living Dangerously

From my list on understanding the Korean War.

Why am I passionate about this?

Roger Hermiston is a writer of contemporary history books that are underpinned by rigorous scholarship, enhanced by a journalist’s eye, and driven by exciting storytelling. One of his books – All Behind You, Winston – Churchill’s Great Coalition 1940-45 told the story of the often-overlooked men (and two women) who helped steer Britain to wartime victory on the Home Front. But two of his other books – The Greatest Traitor and, just out, Two Minutes to Midnight – explore the early years of the Cold War, in the 1950s. In both the Korean War features prominently – in the first, from the perspective of a group of ‘high value’ prisoners held captive by the North Koreans, and in the second, from the view of President Eisenhower and his colleagues as they contemplated using tactical A-bombs to hasten the end of the conflict.

Roger's book list on understanding the Korean War

Roger Hermiston Why did Roger love 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.

By James Salter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hunters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Captain Cleve Connell arrives in Korea with a single goal: to become an ace, one of that elite fraternity of jet pilots who have downed five MIGs. But as his fellow airmen rack up kill after kill - sometimes under dubious circumstances - Cleve's luck runs bad. Other pilots question his guts. Cleve comes to question himself. And then in one icy instant 40,000 feet above the Yalu River, his luck changes forever. Filled with courage and despair, eerie beauty and corrosive rivalry, James Salter's luminous first novel is a landmark masterpiece in the literature of war.


Book cover of I was a captive in Korea

Roger Hermiston Author Of Two Minutes to Midnight: 1953 - The Year of Living Dangerously

From my list on understanding the Korean War.

Why am I passionate about this?

Roger Hermiston is a writer of contemporary history books that are underpinned by rigorous scholarship, enhanced by a journalist’s eye, and driven by exciting storytelling. One of his books – All Behind You, Winston – Churchill’s Great Coalition 1940-45 told the story of the often-overlooked men (and two women) who helped steer Britain to wartime victory on the Home Front. But two of his other books – The Greatest Traitor and, just out, Two Minutes to Midnight – explore the early years of the Cold War, in the 1950s. In both the Korean War features prominently – in the first, from the perspective of a group of ‘high value’ prisoners held captive by the North Koreans, and in the second, from the view of President Eisenhower and his colleagues as they contemplated using tactical A-bombs to hasten the end of the conflict.

Roger's book list on understanding the Korean War

Roger Hermiston Why did Roger love 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.

By Philip Deane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I was a captive in Korea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Author Philip Dean is also known by the names Philippe Gigantès and Gerassimos Svoronos Gigantes


Book cover of In Enemy Hands

Roger Hermiston Author Of Two Minutes to Midnight: 1953 - The Year of Living Dangerously

From my list on understanding the Korean War.

Why am I passionate about this?

Roger Hermiston is a writer of contemporary history books that are underpinned by rigorous scholarship, enhanced by a journalist’s eye, and driven by exciting storytelling. One of his books – All Behind You, Winston – Churchill’s Great Coalition 1940-45 told the story of the often-overlooked men (and two women) who helped steer Britain to wartime victory on the Home Front. But two of his other books – The Greatest Traitor and, just out, Two Minutes to Midnight – explore the early years of the Cold War, in the 1950s. In both the Korean War features prominently – in the first, from the perspective of a group of ‘high value’ prisoners held captive by the North Koreans, and in the second, from the view of President Eisenhower and his colleagues as they contemplated using tactical A-bombs to hasten the end of the conflict.

Roger's book list on understanding the Korean War

Roger Hermiston Why did Roger love 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..

By Larry Zellers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Enemy Hands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A newly married Methodist minister, Larry Zellers was serving as a missionary and teacher in a small South Korean town near the 38th parallel when he was captured by the North Koreans on June 25, 1950. Until his release in 1953, Zellers endured brutal conditions and inhumane treatment. Through his story, Zellers shows that, despite the opinion that POWs live only for themselves, many in the camps worked to help others and conducted themselves with honor.


Book cover of The Korean War

Roger Hermiston Author Of Two Minutes to Midnight: 1953 - The Year of Living Dangerously

From my list on understanding the Korean War.

Why am I passionate about this?

Roger Hermiston is a writer of contemporary history books that are underpinned by rigorous scholarship, enhanced by a journalist’s eye, and driven by exciting storytelling. One of his books – All Behind You, Winston – Churchill’s Great Coalition 1940-45 told the story of the often-overlooked men (and two women) who helped steer Britain to wartime victory on the Home Front. But two of his other books – The Greatest Traitor and, just out, Two Minutes to Midnight – explore the early years of the Cold War, in the 1950s. In both the Korean War features prominently – in the first, from the perspective of a group of ‘high value’ prisoners held captive by the North Koreans, and in the second, from the view of President Eisenhower and his colleagues as they contemplated using tactical A-bombs to hasten the end of the conflict.

Roger's book list on understanding the Korean War

Roger Hermiston Why did Roger love 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.

By Carter Malkasian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Korean War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The Korean War was a significant turning point in the Cold War. This volume explains how the conflict in a small peninsula in East Asia had a tremendous impact on the entire international system and the balance of power between the two superpowers, America and Russia.


Book cover of The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War

James N. Butcher Author Of Korea: Traces of a Forgotten War

From my list on the Korean War from someone who served there.

Why am I passionate about this?

James Neal Butcher is a professor emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota. At age 17, he enlisted in the US Army during the Korean War. He served 2 years in a parachute infantry division (82nd Airborne). He volunteered for service in the Korean War and served one year as an infantry soldier in the 17th Infantry Regiment during the war including the battles for Jane Russell Hill in October 1952 and Pork Chop Hill in April 1953. In 2013 he published a memoir of his early life and his military experience Korea: Traces of a forgotten war. 

James' book list on the Korean War from someone who served there

James N. Butcher Why did James love this book?

This is an interesting early description of events occurring during the beginning days of the Korean War.  The author also addressed the prominent battle at Chipyongni three months later.  The book also covers the entrance of the Chinese into the war to support North Koreans. He focuses upon the extremely cold temperatures-- dropping to a minus forty degrees. He also provides a perspective on the reasons and causes of the Korean War.

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Coldest Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Up until now, the Korean War has been the black hole of modern American history. The Coldest Winter changes that, giving readers a masterful narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides. He charts the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu, and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides astonishingly vivid and nuanced portraits of all the major figures -- Eisenhower, Truman, Acheson, Kim, and Mao, and Generals MacArthur, Almond, and Ridgway. At the heart of the book are the individual stories of the soldiers on…


Book cover of The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950-1951: A Nonconformist History of Our Times

James N. Butcher Author Of Korea: Traces of a Forgotten War

From my list on the Korean War from someone who served there.

Why am I passionate about this?

James Neal Butcher is a professor emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota. At age 17, he enlisted in the US Army during the Korean War. He served 2 years in a parachute infantry division (82nd Airborne). He volunteered for service in the Korean War and served one year as an infantry soldier in the 17th Infantry Regiment during the war including the battles for Jane Russell Hill in October 1952 and Pork Chop Hill in April 1953. In 2013 he published a memoir of his early life and his military experience Korea: Traces of a forgotten war. 

James' book list on the Korean War from someone who served there

James N. Butcher Why did James love this book?

The Hidden History of the Korean War by I. F. Stone was originally published in 1952 during the Korean War and republished in 1970 at a time in which the US was engaging in the Vietnam War. This controversial book provides viewpoints that are not widely accepted historically. The author raises questions about the origin of the Korean War and makes the case that the United States government manipulated the United Nations and was critical that the U.S. military and South Korean governments extended the war by undermining the efforts to complete the peace talks.

By I.F. Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950-1951 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reexamines the causes and course of the Korean War, discusses U.S. war propaganda, and analyzes U.S. foreign policy


Book cover of The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat

James N. Butcher Author Of Korea: Traces of a Forgotten War

From my list on the Korean War from someone who served there.

Why am I passionate about this?

James Neal Butcher is a professor emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota. At age 17, he enlisted in the US Army during the Korean War. He served 2 years in a parachute infantry division (82nd Airborne). He volunteered for service in the Korean War and served one year as an infantry soldier in the 17th Infantry Regiment during the war including the battles for Jane Russell Hill in October 1952 and Pork Chop Hill in April 1953. In 2013 he published a memoir of his early life and his military experience Korea: Traces of a forgotten war. 

James' book list on the Korean War from someone who served there

James N. Butcher Why did James love this book?

Shortly after the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, the First Marine Division was fighting the North Korean army in the north of the Korean Peninsula. In the fall of 1950, the Chinese suddenly entered the war and the First Division Marines became surrounded and vastly outnumbered by Chinese soldiers near the Chosin Reservoir. The only way they could survive was to fight their way south through a narrow valley. Fox Company led by Captain William Barber fought a long cold struggle against the surrounding Chinese. During the relentless violence, three-quarters of Fox’s Marines were killed, wounded, or captured. Just when it looked like they would be overrun, Lt. Colonel Raymond Davis, who is fighting south from Chosin, volunteers to lead a daring mission that will seek to cut a hole in the Chinese lines and relieve the men of Fox.

By Bob Drury, Tom Clavin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Stand of Fox Company as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "gut-clenching and meticulously detailed" (USA Today) account from the Korean War and how Captain William Barber led 246 courageous Marines of the Seventh Marine Regiment in the perilous defense of Fox Hill.

November 1950, the Korean Peninsula: After General MacArthur ignores Mao’s warnings and pushes his UN forces deep into North Korea, his 10,000 First Division Marines find themselves surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered by 100,000 Chinese soldiers near the Chosin Reservoir. Their only chance for survival is to fight their way south through the Toktong Pass, a narrow gorge that will need to be held open at all costs.…


Book cover of American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 - 1964

James N. Butcher Author Of Korea: Traces of a Forgotten War

From my list on the Korean War from someone who served there.

Why am I passionate about this?

James Neal Butcher is a professor emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota. At age 17, he enlisted in the US Army during the Korean War. He served 2 years in a parachute infantry division (82nd Airborne). He volunteered for service in the Korean War and served one year as an infantry soldier in the 17th Infantry Regiment during the war including the battles for Jane Russell Hill in October 1952 and Pork Chop Hill in April 1953. In 2013 he published a memoir of his early life and his military experience Korea: Traces of a forgotten war. 

James' book list on the Korean War from someone who served there

James N. Butcher Why did James love this book?

Manchester’s biography of Douglas MacArthur provides a sympathetic but generally evenhanded characterization of MacArthur’s personality and life contributions.  He provides a detailed background of MacArthur’s military history and his capability of managing complex administrative duties in a complex world.  He acknowledged MacArthur’s skill and bravery in challenging circumstances.  In balance of his descriptions of MacArthur, he also noted complex circumstances in which he was difficult to deal with and sometimes suspicious and mistrustful of others. In his characterization of MacArthur as “Julius Caesar” he characterized MacArthur as having great intellect, brilliant strategic generalship, and political ambition as well as compassion. 

By William Manchester,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Caesar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspiring, outrageous...A thundering paradox of a man. Douglas MacArthur, one of only five men in history to have achieved the rank of General of the United States Army. He served in World Wars I, II, and the Korean War, and is famous for stating that "in war, there is no substitute for victory." AMERICAN CAESAR exaines the exemplary army career, the stunning successes (and lapses) on the battlefield, and the turbulent private life of the soldier-hero whose mystery and appeal created a uniquely American legend.


Book cover of The Origins of the Korean War, Volume I: Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes, 1945-1947

Neal Thompson Author Of Reckoning: Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991

From my list on America’s path through the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I entered the United States Army in August 1970, two months after graduation from high school, completed flight school on November 1971, and served a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in Troop F (Air), 8th US Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade. After my discharge, I served an additional 28 years as a helicopter pilot in the Illinois National Guard, retiring in 2003. I graduated from Triton Junior College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University Law School in 1981. My passion for this subject arises, as one would expect, from my status as a veteran. My expertise is based on my own experience and 16 years of research and writing that went into the preparation of my book.

Neal's book list on America’s path through the Cold War

Neal Thompson Why did Neal love this book?

Professor Cumings provides the most detailed, honest analysis of this country’s involvement in Korea from the end of World War II through the catastrophic war that virtually destroyed the entire Korean peninsula, left several million dead, and led this country directly into Vietnam. 

By Bruce Cumings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Origins of the Korean War, Volume I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Description for this book, The Origins of the Korean War, Volume I: Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes, 1945-1947, will be forthcoming.


Book cover of The West Point Atlas of American Wars: Vol. 1, 1689-1900

James Kelly Morningstar Author Of Patton's Way: A Radical Theory of War

From my list on military history for people who think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for this theme because I served as an armor officer in the U.S. Army for more than twenty years. I saw the effect of both thinking and non-thinking commanders first-hand in places like the inter-German border during the Cold War, Iraq in combat during the first Gulf War, and Bosnia in ‘operations other than war.’ My experience drove me to continue my military studies resulting in four degrees, including my PhD and my current occupation as a professor of military history. My search for understanding war and military decision-making reflects a desire to better instruct the future leaders among my college students and readers.

James' book list on military history for people who think

James Kelly Morningstar Why did James love this book?

I probably have referred to this work more than any other in my personal library of several thousand books. This original hardback covers more than thirteen wars in hundreds of detailed maps. Later hardback and online editions have added all major conflicts from the Korean War to the recent war in Afghanistan. Patton once said that terrain is the skeleton upon which we flesh out our plans and operations. I believe no historian can understand battles and campaigns without first understanding the terrain. These maps make it possible to see the restraints and constraints imposed by terrain and give the possibility for the trained eye to retrospectively measure the coup de oeil in their subject’s eye. All military history begins with a map and the maps begin here. 

By Vincent J. Esposito (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The West Point Atlas of American Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presents maps with corresponding narratives covering every campaign in American wars from 1689 to the Korean War


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Korean War, the Cold War, and Korea?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Korean War, the Cold War, and Korea.

The Korean War Explore 50 books about the Korean War
The Cold War Explore 234 books about the Cold War
Korea Explore 38 books about Korea