.. we can now add Hampton Sides’s On Desperate Ground [to the pantheon of literature on The Battle of Chosin Reservoir], which hits all the right notes in the novelistic way that histories are written today ... Mr. Sides does an admirable job of balancing the book’s two storylines, explaining the upper-echelon politics that put the Marines in such a precarious position, and the on-the-ground planning, execution and sheer bravery that helped them escape. To Mr. Sides, the Marines’ Gen. Smith is the hero of the story, and rightly so. Smith had the better understanding of the conflict his men were thrust into, even as he was being thwarted at almost every turn by MacArthur and his staff.
...a superb account of the greatest battle of the Korean War ... As narrative history, the book is a masterpiece of thorough research, deft pacing and arresting detail. As an allegory for America’s current leadership predicament, it is nothing less than terrifying ... In On Desperate Ground, Sides focuses his considerable narrative gifts on the human consequences of that failure.
In his new book, On Desperate Ground, best-selling author and historian Hampton Sides has delivered a combat thriller, focusing on the hellish 1950 Battle for Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War ... The cinematic battle scenes make up the heart of this gripping narrative, the result of Sides dogged reporting that involved interviewing more than four dozen veterans in 20 states ... A gifted storyteller, Sides once again has crafted an incredible tale, a heart-stopping narrative filled with rich detail and moments of incredible humanity that will appeal to far more than just military readers. This is a book not to be missed.
... Sides takes the reader into the darkest heart of the Chosin Reservoir Campaign. Drawing from personal interviews and other sources, he tells the stories of Marines who kept fighting despite multiple wounds and some who died in action ... On Desperate Ground is a first-rate work of military history, and its combat narratives are rich with individual stories of danger, bravery, loss, survival and wrenching poignancy.
Noted Military Historian Hampton Sides gives the background of the conflict but within the story of the clash of personalities, not in a formal introduction. Desperate Ground covers much more than the legendary story of the breakout at Chosin Reservoir, including Inchon, Seoul, Sudong, and Wonsan. The author writes a compelling account of battles, leaders, and men sadly forgotten, and told in a lively personal prose.
Just after Thanksgiving in 1950, some 300,000 Chinese communist soldiers fell upon American soldiers and Marines advancing through North Korea toward the Chinese border at the Yalu River. On a strategic level, the Chinese assault amounted to a disaster for the United States ... Still, author Hampton Sides — he’s a journalism professor and popular historian — finds a brighter outlook on the tactical side in On Desperate Ground. Sides focuses heavily on the 1st Marine Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Oliver Smith — one of the few American generals to win a salute from author Sides ... Sides’ prose is refreshingly nonacademic.
On a Sunday night in June 1973, a deadly fire at the Up Stairs Lounge claimed 32 lives. Officially, the fire remains an unsolved crime, but detailed reporting shows that the blaze was more than likely set by Roger Nunez, an intoxicated patron and vengeful hustler who had been thrown out of the bar for starting a fight. Mr. Nunez committed suicide in 1974. In a well-paced narrative published this year, author Robert W. Fieseler shows readers how the tragedy galvanized activists in New Orleans.
Sides adds a fast-moving and well-written narrative to [literature on The Battle of Chosin Reservoir], though without bringing much news to the enterprise ... Better books are available, but for general readers, this account is a worthy introduction to a battle that has become a byword for suffering.
Sides... updates the much-chronicled, epic winter fighting retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War in this splendid account ... Sides’s lucid assessment of the battles, leadership, politics, and key figures at the turning point of the war show how the First Marine Division’s commanders and fighting men staved off a nearly unprecedented military debacle.
...It's a towering tale of official ineptitude and battlefield fortitude that plays out against the backdrop of American's most forgotten modern war ... Our guide is master storyteller Hampton Sides, who specializes in captivating readers with his trademark moment-by-moment accounts of American history ... the book's only significant weakness, there's not much about the lives and motives of the fighters on the other side. Instead, Sides focuses on the experiences of American troops and the fascinating story of a young Korean man who helped the Americans and now lives in the US. Sides even manages to find a light moment when a mix-up over an order of Tootsie Rolls actually helps the Marines keep their machines running.