Want to know what books Bruce Cumings recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Bruce Cumings's favorite book recommendations of all time.
Bruce CumingsThis book is very interesting. I F Stone was a famous iconoclastic investigative reporter. His method was to read a whole bunch of newspapers every day, clip them, and then read what the government was saying publicly through government reports, speeches and the like, and then try to figure out what was going on. And he got many things right about the Korean War using that method. In the early... (Source)
Bruce CumingsCallum was a friend of mine, just because I read his book and got to know him, and I think this is one of the very best books on the war. It makes the point that you can also draw out of Reginald Thompson’s book: that the Korean War was much more like the Vietnam War than any other war before that. It had very shifting lines. The guerrillas were very much involved, particularly in the first year... (Source)
Set in 1951–53, War Trash takes the form of the memoir of Yu Yuan, a young Chinese army officer, one of a corps of “volunteers” sent by Mao to help shore up the Communist side in... more
Set in 1951–53, War Trash takes the form of the memoir of Yu Yuan, a young Chinese army officer, one of a corps of “volunteers” sent by Mao to help shore up the Communist side in Korea. When Yu is captured, his command of English thrusts him into the role of unofficial interpreter in the psychological warfare that defines the POW camp.
Taking us behind the barbed wire, Ha Jin draws on true historical accounts to render the complex world the prisoners inhabit—a world of strict surveillance and complete allegiance to authority. Under the rules of war and the constraints of captivity, every human instinct is called into question, to the point that what it means to be human comes to occupy the foremost position in every prisoner’s mind.
As Yu and his fellow captives struggle to create some sense of community while remaining watchful of the deceptions inherent in every exchange, only the idea of home can begin to hold out the promise that they might return to their former selves. But by the end of this unforgettable novel—an astonishing addition to the literature of war that echoes classics like Dostoevsky’s Memoirs from the House of the Dead and the works of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen—the very concept of home will be more profoundly altered than they can even begin to imagine. less
Bruce CumingsHa Jin’s novel is obviously based on either his experience or his father’s experience of the Korean War. There are some very stark and striking descriptions. He didn’t have access to South Korea, but he has this wonderful ability to treat everybody fairly and to listen to the songs of women guerrillas that were captured by South Korean prison camps and enjoy listening to them. He does the same... (Source)
Harry WuIt’s written by a young Chinese author who came to the United States. He wrote this book in his second language and still won lots of awards for it, which is very impressive. I think this is a really good book to show the West more about what is going on in China. People think that it’s all about economic growth but there is so much more to our history than that. (Source)
Based on a massive array of primary sources, Casey subtly explores the government's selling activities from all angles. He looks at the halting and sometimes chaotic efforts of Harry Truman and Dean Acheson,... more
Based on a massive array of primary sources, Casey subtly explores the government's selling activities from all angles. He looks at the halting and sometimes chaotic efforts of Harry Truman and Dean Acheson, Dwight Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles. He examines the relationships that they and their subordinates developed with a host of other institutions, from Congress and the press to Hollywood and labor. And he assesses the complex and fraught interactions between the military and war correspondents in the battlefield theater itself.
From high politics to bitter media spats, Casey guides the reader through the domestic debates of this messy, costly war. He highlights the actions and calculations of colorful figures, including Senators Robert Taft and JHoseph McCarthy, and General Douglas MacArthur. He details how the culture and work routines of Congress and the media influenced political tactics and daily news stories. And he explores how different phases of the war threw up different problems - from the initial disasters in the summer of 1950 to the giddy prospects of victory in October 1950, from the massive defeats in the wake of China's massive intervention to the lengthy period of stalemate fighting in 1952 and 1953.
Bruce CumingsYes. This is a recent book, and it is very well researched. I think for lay people who try to understand what historians do, it really helps to know that you can’t really cover a subject without using archives and primary sources. He also looks at formerly classified secret documents. All this information gives us a window into what really happened (as opposed to what was supposed to have... (Source)
Bruce CumingsLike several of the best books on the Korean War, this one is out of print. When David Halberstam was doing his book on the Korean War a few years ago he wrote that he went to a public library and he found 88 books on the Vietnam War and four on the Korean War, and I think that says a lot about the general lack of scholarship and interest in the Korean War in the U.S. (Source)
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