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The Korean War: The West Confronts Communism, by Michael Hickey, Overland Press, New York, N.Y., 2000, $24.95.

Although relatively neglected by historians, the Korean War was the first test of Western military resolve against a Communist nation and the first military operation to be launched by the United Nations.

Michael Hickey writes of the war both as a scholar and as a participant who possesses vivid memories from personal experience. He entered the war as a decorated British officer, commanding a transport platoon. Later, he earned a fellowship in defense at King’s College in London, and wrote books on the British campaigns in Gallipoli during World War I and Burma during World War II.

Presented so that readers do not become bogged down with historical complexities, The Korean War: The West Confronts Communism gives a concise overview of the conflict’s origins and the United States’ intervention. As fighting moves up and down the peninsula, author Hickey focuses largely on the contribution of the Commonwealth forces, but does not lose sight of the larger political picture, devoting several chapters to the roles played by President Harry Truman and General Douglas MacArthur. Other chapters describe prisoner-of-war camps, covert operations and propaganda campaigns that complete this comprehensive picture of the Korean War from start to finish.

Rob Stout