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.