Red Wings over the Yalu - Xiaoming Zhang

Red Wings over the Yalu: China, the Soviet Union, and the Air War in Korea by Xiaoming Zhang. This is a great addition to the history of the airwar in the Korean war. Based on research on previously unavailble sources in China and Russia, Zhang have created a very interesting history from the Chinese side. Its not a book full of tactical descriptions, rather is a history of the Chinese Air Force response to the conflict. Specifically, its attempt to receive as much material and training from the USSR at the same time carefully controlling its participation in the fighting. The Chinese military was well aware of its inadequacies in facing the American and South Korean air forces in the opening of hostilities. With new material regarding committed forces and actual loses, the previous American win/loss ratios have to be revised. This should come at no surprise, as the fog of war always creates in accurate statistics when the data only come from one side of the conflict. So if you are looking for stories of fighting over the Korean air space, these will not be your book. But as a reexamination of the air war from Chinese strategic level, its a great new contribution.

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Odd Man Out - RIchard Thorton

Odd Man Out: Truman, Stalin, Mao, and the Origins of the Korean War.  The book presents a list of arguments to turn the conventional wisdom regarding the role of USSR, China, and United States in the Korean War.  Convetional wisdom: US was totally surprised by the invasion, the war was started by Kim despite the misgivings of both USSR and China.  Thorton thinks otherwise, Truman had ample warning and allowed the conflict to escalate because he needed a united front from a war weary population to support against the spread of Communism world-wide. Mao wanted to invade Taiwan, but needed USSR's weapons, so supported the North's invasion in the bargain, and finally Stalin pushed Kim to start the war to keep the Chinese dependent on the Soviet Union. Whether you buy into Mr Thorton's ideas or not, he does present a well researched and thoughtful approach in examining this crucial period immediately after WWII. While I as not ultimately convinced of all of his arguments, it gets one thinking and questioning, as a good history book should.

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