Korea: Where the American Century Began by Michael Pembroke (Hardie Grant Books)
Michael Pembroke’s Korea is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the bedevilling politics of the Korean peninsula. The book tells the story of the war that began when North Korea invaded the South in June 1950, and was promptly repelled by an American-led United Nations force. The Americans then turned aggressors, pushing north without UN approval. Offering fascinating behind-the-scenes insights into the key players, Korea narrates what came next.
Gripping in style and shocking in content, Korea offers an unflinching appraisal of America’s role in the war. Pembroke tells the story of China’s devastating rout of the US-led force, the Americans’ massive napalm-fuelled retaliation by air, and their later breach of the Armistice by bringing nuclear weapons to the peninsula in 1958. The result is a fast-paced, frightening history that also serves as a primer on the complexities of US-Chinese-Korean relations today.