10 books like The Korean War

By Carter Malkasian,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Korean War. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Hunters

By James Salter,

Book cover of The Hunters

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.

The Hunters

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.


I was a captive in Korea

By Philip Deane,

Book cover of I was a captive in Korea

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.

I was a captive in Korea

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


In Enemy Hands

By Larry Zellers,

Book cover of In Enemy Hands

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..

In Enemy Hands

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.


The Korean War

By Max Hastings,

Book cover of The Korean War

Max Hasting’s book described the early days of the war, for example the actions of Task Force Smith. He provides a valuable perspective on the Korean War that includes an interesting balanced account of a war that is still considered by many to be controversial. Hastings considers the perspectives of all sides of the Korean conflict and examines the various motivations of their respective actions, such as the U.S. decision to send troops to Korea in September 1945, and to send them back in June 1950, to the Chinese decision to send their own troops into Korea in the fall of 1950.  He also provides a perspective on the important decision to participate in the signing of the armistice in July 1953.

The Korean War

By Max Hastings,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Korean War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Korean War is journalist and military historian Sir Max Hastings' compelling account of the forgotten war.

'The best narrative history of the Korean conflict' - Guardian

On 25 June 1950 the invasion of South Korea by the Communist North launched one of the bloodiest conflicts of the last century. The seemingly limitless power of the Chinese-backed North was thrown against the ferocious firepower of the UN-backed South in a war that can be seen today as the stark prelude to Vietnam.

Max Hastings draws on first-hand accounts of those who fought on both sides to produce this vivid and…


The Origins of the Korean War, Volume I

By Bruce Cumings,

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

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. 

The Origins of the Korean War, Volume I

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.


The Age of Eisenhower

By William Hitchcock,

Book cover of The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s

After Eisenhower left office, he was routinely ranked in the bottom ten on the presidential rankings. Now, he’s regularly voted into the top five. This book helps explain why Eisenhower deserves to be at the top, why he left such an indelible mark on the nation, and why the second half of the 20th century was the age of Eisenhower. It’s also beautifully written and a joy to read.

The Age of Eisenhower

By William Hitchcock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller, this is the "outstanding" (The Atlantic), insightful, and authoritative account of Dwight Eisenhower's presidency.

Drawing on newly declassified documents and thousands of pages of unpublished material, The Age of Eisenhower tells the story of a masterful president guiding the nation through the great crises of the 1950s, from McCarthyism and the Korean War through civil rights turmoil and Cold War conflicts. This is a portrait of a skilled leader who, despite his conservative inclinations, found a middle path through the bitter partisanship of his era. At home, Eisenhower affirmed the central elements of the New…


The Rice Sprout Song

By Eileen Chang,

Book cover of The Rice Sprout Song

This is a heart-wrenching novel about hunger and starvation in the early 1950s in a Southern China village. The book title implies the joy of harvest, which has a rhetorical effect as it runs counter to the book theme. Its metaphor for hunger is watery gruel that the rural poor eat for every meal as they slowly starve. The story is about the impending great famine after the Communist Party introduces the land reform policies and how villagers suffer in silence atrocious government abuse. 

This novel is a must-read if you want to understand what starvation feels like.

The Rice Sprout Song

By Eileen Chang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first of Eileen Chang's novels to be written in English, The Rice-Sprout Song portrays the horror and absurdity that the land-reform movement brings to a southern village in China during the early 1950s. Contrary to the hopes of the peasants in this story, the redistribution of land does not mean an end to hunger. Man-made and natural disasters bring about the threat of famine, while China's involvement in the Korean War further deepens the peasants' misery. Chang's chilling depiction of the peasants' desperate attempts to survive both the impending famine and government abuse makes for spellbinding reading. Her critique…


The Genius Under the Table

By Eugene Yelchin,

Book cover of The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

What was life like under the Stalinist Soviet regime? Author Eugene Yelchin vividly and often hilariously recounts his own experiences during those repressive, poverty-stricken, and politically difficult times. Filled with Yelchin’s charming black and white drawings, readers of all ages will applaud Yelchin while learning much about those long-ago times in a country still run by a repressive regime. This timely, poignant book is a great read.

The Genius Under the Table

By Eugene Yelchin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Honor Winner

With a masterful mix of comic timing and disarming poignancy, Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin offers a memoir of growing up in Cold War Russia.

Drama, family secrets, and a KGB spy in his own kitchen! How will Yevgeny ever fulfill his parents’ dream that he become a national hero when he doesn’t even have his own room? He’s not a star athlete or a legendary ballet dancer. In the tiny apartment he shares with his Baryshnikov-obsessed mother, poetry-loving father, continually outraged grandmother, and safely talented brother, all Yevgeny has is his…


Russia and the Idea of Europe

By Iver B. Neumann,

Book cover of Russia and the Idea of Europe: A Study in Identity and International Relations

Russia has historically connected to Europe as its significant other. This book describes the nature of the country’s identity development through the love-hate relations with European nations and search for recognition by Western other. Sometimes, Russia has sought to borrow Europe’s institutions and values. Other times, it has positioned itself as a great power and a superior system of internal values relative to “corrupt” Europe. 

Russia and the Idea of Europe

By Iver B. Neumann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia and the Idea of Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The end of the Soviet system and the transition to the market in Russia, coupled with the inexorable rise of nationalism, brought to the fore the centuries-old debate about Russia's relationship with Europe. In this revised and updated second edition of Russia and the Idea of Europe, Iver Neumann discusses whether the tensions between self-referencing nationalist views and Europe-orientated liberal views can ever be resolved.

Drawing on a wide range of Russian sources, this book retains the broad historical focus of the previous edition and picks up from where the it off in the early 1990s, bringing the discussion fully…


Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Shadow of the Past

By Robert Legvold,

Book cover of Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Shadow of the Past

Russia’s foreign policy has followed different historical trajectories and relations with the outside world. This excellent collection of works by historians and social scientists focuses on the long “shadows of the past” as a lens through which to assess the country’s international behavior and moments of transformation. The explored themes include the impact of Russian foreign policy on domestic political structures, imperial identity, geographic settings, position within the global economy, and others. 

Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Shadow of the Past

By Robert Legvold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Shadow of the Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Because the turbulent trajectory of Russia's foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union echoes previous moments of social and political transformation, history offers a special vantage point from which to judge the current course of events. In this book, a mix of leading historians and political scientists examines the foreign policy of contemporary Russia over four centuries of history. The authors explain the impact of empire and its loss, the interweaving of domestic and foreign impulses, long-standing approaches to national security, and the effect of globalization over time. Contributors focus on the underlying patterns that have marked Russian…


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Interested in the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Soviet Union?

7,000+ 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 the Soviet Union.

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