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By Max Hastings

'A remarkable and compelling e-book which needs to rank, even via the factors Max Hastings has set, as a masterpiece' - Professor Michael Howard, London evaluate of Books. On 25 June 1950, the invasion of South Korea through the Communist North introduced one of many bloodiest and such a lot devastating conflicts of our battle-scarred century. The doubtless unlimited energy of the Chinese-backed North was once thrown opposed to the ferocious firepower of the UN-backed South in a battle that may be noticeable this present day because the stark prelude to Vietnam. Max Hastings, the acclaimed writer of "Overlord and Bomber Command", has drawn on first-hand money owed of these who fought on either side to supply this vibrant and incisive reassessment of the Korean battle, bringing the army and human dimensions of the clash into sharp concentration. 'Excellent, readable historical past by means of a grasp of the style' - "Daily Mail." 'The description of the stand of the Gloucesters at the Imjin is exemplary. Hastings has spared no pains to dig deep looking for the true fact, and to find and interview those that took half within the occasions he chronicles with such finely balanced judgement' - box Marshall Lord Carver, "Times Literary Supplement."

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He himself was inaugurated as South Korea's first elected leader on 24 July 1948. On 14 August, the third anniversary of VJ-Day, amid the wailing tones of the Great Bell of Chongno, the US flag was lowered over the Capitol building in Seoul, and that of the new South Korean Republic was hoisted. General MacArthur himself delivered a bellicose speech in which he told Koreans, 'an artificial barrier has divided your land. ' In the months that followed, Syngman Rhee addressed himself to the creation of a ruthless dictatorship in South Korea.

Yet it was he who authorised the Korean police to deputise bands of 'loyal citizens' into 'Community Protective Organisations'. These quickly became known colloquially among Americans as 'Rhee's goon squads'. Their purpose was frankly terroristic — to drive not only communists, but any group unsympathetic to the right, from South Korean life. In the six weeks before polling, 589 people were killed in disturbances, and 10,000 'processed' at police stations. 8 million registered voters went to the polls.

In the next seven years, Moscow and Tokyo competed for power and concessions in Seoul. The devastating Japanese victory at Tsushima, a few miles off Pusan, decided the outcome. In February 1904, the Japanese moved a large army into Korea. In November the following year, the nation became a Japanese protectorate. In a characteristic exercise of the colonial cynicism of the period, the British accepted Japanese support for their rule in India in exchange for blessing Tokyo's takeover of Korea. Whitehall acknowledged Japan's right 'to take such measures of guidance, control, and protection in Corea [sic] as she may deem proper and necessary', to promote her 'paramount political, military and economic interests'.

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