This book continues my recent trend of military history paperbacks, almost. The trend began with The Battle Off Of Midway Island and continued with Sink the Bismarck!. I guess the trend is also from nonfiction to fiction, as this is not a book about the actual exploits of US GIs. Instead, it is a collection of six short stories set in World War II and the Korean War.
The Collaborator tells the story of an ex-GI living in China when the Japanese invade. He is forced to collaborate with them, culminating in them using him as an infiltrator during an American invasion of a small island. However, their hold on him is broken, and he can finally get revenge.
The Soldier Who Had No Gun shows the story of a chaplain who accompanies a tired, dispirited platoon on a dangerous mission to flank a German stronghold and how he rejuvenates the group.
In The Trap, a British guerrilla war expert is in a plane shot down over a jungle. Pursued by the Japanese, he and his two American airmen have to sneak to safety, and the Brit learns a little something about guerrilla warfare from a native American.
Set in Korea, Night Attack covers a ROK assault on a thinly stretched American position immediately after a platoon sargeant is promoted to lieutenant, and his new platoon sargeant is another man passed over for the job.
In The Raid, a team of specialists is sent to a Japanese prison camp to rescue a submarine commander with knowledge of an upcoming assault. They are to extract him if they can, and to kill him if he cannot.
Operation Christrose tells about a fresh lieutenant coming to a quiet part of the front and leading his platoon on a scouting trip across the river–and into the camp of a German army massing for a surprise break out.
These stories appeared in men’s magazines and The Saturday Evening Post between 1944 and 1963, so between Right Now and 20 years later. They’re pretty vivid accounts and better reading than the normal pulp paperbacks I read.
The one Korea story, and the Korean veterans I saw speak at a recent memorial dedication, have brought to mind how forgotten that war is. Whereas World War II continues to throw off films and culture and whereas the Vietnam War overserves as a metaphor, you don’t get a lot of fiction or film out of the Korean War. And what a brutal place it was to fight.
So I enjoyed this short collection and really see myself going on a 20th century war tear here for a bit.
Books mentioned in this review: