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Defense Secretary Mattis Recommends Book About Korean War To Army, And Things Are Getting Real

By Collin Gossel

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is a well-known history buff and, unlike the President, a voracious reader. When giving an address to the Association of the United States Army’s Exposition on Building Readiness, he referenced pieces of literature that might help people in the present day to understand the nature of war and our current situation.

Mattis highlighted one book, however, as a must-read: This Kind of War by T. R. Fehrenbach.

Originally published in 1963, This Kind of War is a comprehensive history of the Korean War that's fairly popular among military readers, though historians have criticized it. While offering a compelling look at life in the trenches, and several profound themes that resonate in our modern era, the book also features sweeping generalizations of people Fehrenbach refers to as "Orientals." At one point, the authors states:

Koreans were a disorganized and submissive people, almost without political education … the Irish of the Orient, changeable, mercurial...

He later claims that the ceasefire has left South Korea resigned "to continued existence as a rump state, permanently incapable of supporting itself economically." This, of course, turned out to be completely false — the South Korean democracy is now a significant industrial power with a GDP of 1.41 trillion USD.