Sunday, January 31, 2016

Grumble Jones Book Review

To wrap up the month of January, I decided to do a brief review of a few books from the Grumble Jones Library.

One of the signature behaviors of nearly all ASL players is a love for books and not just any books...but books that cover WWII action in words and pictures that are accurate, detailed, and pertinent to the event covered. As a rule we shy away from the $10.- WWII history books at Books-A-Million. We are not interested in the coffee table version of WWII history. No...we want detail and more detail...tell us how many Panther Tanks were at Kovel and who was in command of each one...and oh tell us the numbers on the turret...don't skimp on the information. We want it all. So the books offered up today are intended to scratch the ASL reader's itch. Hopefully you will see a title you hadn't seen or considered before. So my friends...stay thirsty...for knowledge...stay thirsty!

Let's start with the Korean War in honor of MMP's "Forgotten War" release. Not WWII...but ASL nonetheless and a war that we could do more to learn about. 

John Toland is one of the author's whose many books filled my childhood reading. Toland's coverage of the early days of the war stand out for the starkness of the situation for the outnumbered US forces as they fell back to the Pusan pocket.

I can think of no other action, which so dramatically answers the question of how the American combat infantryman would hold up in the darkest circumstances. 

We cannot honor our Korean War veterans enough...

Max Hastings...need I say of the greatest military writers of the contemporary generation. Hasting's gives a higher level account of the war and includes some of the experiences faced by the United Kingdom forces engaged in that awful war.

And Hastings is bold enough to discuss the need for the war. To hear an Englishman explain why America and its allies needed to fight that war...are every bit as important to know today as they were then.

And indeed...the Korean War has yet to end...

The final volume to look at today is David Douglas Duncan's outstanding...THIS IS WAR. In my opinion this is the definitive photo history of the Korean War.

Duncan breaks the volume into three parts: The retreat to Pusan, the battles of Inchon and Seoul, and the retreat from Chosin Reservoir.

His images are some of the best ever taken of American soldiers in combat. Many of them are unflinching in revealing the horror of war both physical and emotional. 

Duncan's camera is able to capture what words often fail to deliver.  And again, these images will inspire respect and pride for our veterans.

Duncan's camera captures the exhaustion of war and retreat in Cpt. Ike Fenton's face.

The fall of Seoul is well documented and should give ASL players a very good sense of the urban combat that occurred in the Korean War.

Duncan's images remind us that there is a horrific cost to war. Something we ASL players must never forget.

So there you have it. The first edition of the Grumble Jones Book Review Post. Future reviews will cover books relating to specific actions, units or theaters over the coming year. Hopefully, this will be an interesting monthly post.

This post is also dedicated to my very good friend and Korean War Veteran, Don Boelhauf. Don taught me a great many things as I began my career as a young buyer. In 1994, Don and I traveled to Oxford, MS from St. Louis, MO. As our plane winged its way south to Memphis, Don leaned over the aisle to tell me about his experiences in the Korean War. Up to that point, I had no idea he had even served in the military. I'll never know why he opened up about it, but his story has stayed with me to this very day.

Don arrived in Korea and reported to his unit's CP. Don had been assigned to a Signals Battalion. His CO informed him that his unit was out laying cable and would be back in the evening. Well evening came and went and his unit never reported. The next morning Don was informed that his entire unit has been wiped out in a North Korean ambush. Shaken to say the least, Don was moved over to the Quartermaster for his future details. With a ruddy faced smile Don went on to tell me that he began drinking heavily at that time and concealed his alcohol in a grapefruit can. In this way, he managed to cope with his situation. His drinking also managed to save his life. One day, while drunk and driving his jeep, Don caught the attention of a North Korean anti-tank gun. As he weaved down the dirt road, shell after shell missed him. When he finally realized  his was being shot at, Don bailed out of the jeep moments before it was hit and destroyed. 

I sat across from Don with my chin on the floor of the aircraft. I had never before heard such a story. Don just laughed and began preparing me for our meeting with the Japanese at the Hitachi facility in Oxford, MS. He never spoke to me again about the war. Don and I worked together from 1993 until I moved to Tennessee in 2000. Don died of prostate cancer in 2005 after a valiant fight against it.

I never got to tell him, what a difference he made in my life. I can only hope that he knew, what was unsaid between us. So Don, this post is for you.




DATE OF BIRTH: 06/08/1934

DATE OF DEATH: 11/12/2005

BURIED AT: SECTION 1CC  SITE 653 Click to view the cemetery map


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