The Marines of Autumn: A Novel of the Korean War

BOOK: The Marines of Autumn: A Novel of the Korean War
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PRAISE FOR

J
AMES
B
RADY AND
T
HE
M
ARINES OF
A
UTUMN

 

“The Marines of Autumn
is a you-are-there epic story that portrays the horror and the heroism of the Corps finest, yet most critical hour. A truly gripping tale of a war that America has sadly forgotten.”

—David Hackworth, author of
Hazardous Duty

“Both novel and memoir
{The Coldest War}
are graphic reminders of what has been called the Forgotten War. But not by Brady.”


Time Magazine

“The Marines of Autumn
is a masterpiece [that] recalls the era with awesome authenticity. The novel’s outcome is one of thunderous dramatic beauty and power.”


The Associated Press

“There are war novels and then there are great war novels—and James Brady’s engrossing tome,
The Marines of Autumn
, instantly falls into the latter category.”


The New York Post

“Brady tells it like it was and tells it extremely well.”


Booklist

“The battle scenes, and the bone-freezing cold, are drawn with the precision of a M.A.S.H surgeon’s scalpel. . . . The last two chapters are as tough, poignant, and darkly funny as war writing ever gets, and it rings all the more true for that. There is honor here, and all the promises a culture and tradition can keep. This is a hell of a book about a hell of war by a hell of a writer.”


Daily News

“The Korean War has found an authentic voice.”


The Washington Times

 

 

Also by J
AMES
B
RADY

 

The Coldest War

 

The Hampton Novels
Further Lane

Gin Lane

The House That Ate the Hamptons

 

Superchic

The Press Lord
Nielsen’s Children
Holy Wars

Paris One

Fashion Show
Designs

THE
MARINES
OF
AUTUMN

A N
OVEL OF THE
K
OREAN
W
AR

J
AMES
B
RADY

 

T
HOMAS
D
UNNE
B
OOKS
S
T
. M
ARTIN’S
G
RIFFIN
  
  N
EW
Y
ORK

 

 

 

THOMAS DUNNE BOOKS
An imprint of St. Martin’s Press

 

THE MARINES OF AUTUMN
. Copyright © 2000 by James Brady. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

 

www.stmartins.com

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Brady, James.

The Marines of autumn : a novel of the Korean War / James Brady.—1st ed.

      p. cm.

ISBN 0-312-26200-0 (hc)

ISBN 0-312-28081-5 (pbk)

1. Korean War, 1950-1953—Fiction. 2. United States. Marine Corps—Fiction.

I. Title.

PS3552.R243 M37 2000

813'.54—dc21

00-025472

CIP

 

10  9  8  7  6

 

D
EDICATION TO “THE
C
HOSIN
F
EW”

This book is dedicated to the Marines and others, American and Allied, who fought and defeated the Chinese army in the autumn of 1950 in the mountains of North Korea near the Chosin Reservoir, those who ever since have called themselves, with a rare humor, the Chosin Few. It was my honor to serve with some of them.

CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

EPILOGUE

AFTERWORD

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

I fought as a Marine officer in the Taebaek Mountains of North Korea from Thanksgiving weekend of 1951 through that autumn and winter into the spring of 1952, first as a rifle platoon leader in Dog Company of the Seventh Marines, then as Dog Company’s executive officer, finally as battalion intelligence officer. This area of operations was just south of where the Chosin Reservoir fighting took place exactly a year earlier, in the autumn of 1950.

In writing fictionally about the 1950 campaign I have drawn on conversations and correspondences with men who were there and on articles in general magazines and newspapers as well as such specialized publications as
Leatherneck
magazine,
The Old Breed News
, and the newsletter of the Chosin Few organization.

Books on which I’ve drawn include:

 

U. S. Marine Operations in Korea, 1950-1953
, volume 3:
The Chosin Reservoir Campaign
, by Lynn Montross and Captain Nicholas A. Canzona, USMC; reprinted by R. J. Speights, Austin, Texas, 1990.

 

Korea, the Untold Story of the War
, by Joseph Goulden; Times Books, New York, 1982.

 

This Is War
, by David Douglas Duncan; Harper & Brothers, New York, 1951.

 

Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller
, by Burke Davis; Bantam Books, New York, 1962.

 

Colder Than Hell, A Marine Rifle Company at Chosin Reservoir
, by Joseph R. Owen; Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1996.

 

Retreat, Hell!
by Jim Wilson; William Morrow, New York, 1988.

 

Triumph on 1240, The Story of Dog Company Seventh Marines in Korea
, by R. D. Humphreys; Professional Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1998.

 

Korean War Almanac
, by Harry G. Summers, Jr.; Facts on File, New York, 1990.

 

Breakout
, by Martin Russ; Fromm International, New York, 1999.

 

Witness to War, Korea
, by Rod Paschall; Berkley Publishing, New York, 1995.

 

Truman
, by David McCullough; Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992.

 

American Caesar
(a biography of Douglas MacArthur), by William Manchester.

 

And for general information about Korea,
A Handbook of Korea
, published in 1988 by Seoul International Publishing House for the Korean Overseas Information Service.

 

 

We’ll be home for Christmas,
The kids never missed us.
So cheer up, my lads,
Bless ’em all.


Polite variant on a Marine ditty
,
North Korea, Autumn 1950

 

T
HE
M
ARINES OF
A
UTUMN

P
ROLOGUE

This was mountain country, beautiful and terrible, and it was a country that had been at war almost four months, but with no fighting this far north.

 

 

 

T
here were still tigers in these mountains and it was natural for the smallish deer, tawny with white markings, to move cautiously when it came down to drink on an autumn morning from the big lake that served as a reservoir and for the hydroelectric power system. The deer’s caution was normal and instinctive and had nothing to do with the country being at war. What was not normal, the morning’s cold.

Winter was fierce in this place, the wind out of Siberia crossing a brief corner of Manchuria and heavy snow coming off the Sea of Japan, the two combining to bury the Taebaek Mountains of North Korea for five or six months of every year. November could be very cold, and true calendar winter, when it came, would fasten its chill grip on people and mountains until late April and into May. There were few gentle months in the Taebaeks.

But this cold in early October?

The deer, which of course had no knowledge of dates or frontiers, knew only it was strange to find skim ice at the edge of the lake so soon after the summer’s heat. The ice was barely there and no obstacle to drinking, and the deer pawed it away easily with a
hoof before bending its neck to drink. If there were a tiger about, now was its moment. But no tiger sprang and the deer drank its fill before moving back up the slope of the hill and away from the water. Beyond these low hills sloping upward from the natural bowl of the lake were real hills, mountains of twenty-five hundred meters or more, eight or nine thousand feet in height, with snow cresting their summits, even in autumn.

This was mountain country, beautiful and terrible, slimly forested by fir and pine, spruce and cedar, with small, swift streams of pure water racing through narrow gorges that divided the steep hills, and it was a country that had been now at war almost four months but with no fighting this far north. Not even the dull pounding of distant guns or the rumor of war to disturb its calm.

The lake at which the deer drank and where skim ice formed in the shallows was called Changjin. But on the maps, which were mostly in Japanese from forty years of occupation, this lake was marked down as the Chosin Reservoir rather than its proper, Korean name. And it was at the Chosin that two opposing armies would soon meet. Though in early October, with great China not yet in the war and Gen. Douglas MacArthur declaring the conflict almost won, no one knew this.

BOOK: The Marines of Autumn: A Novel of the Korean War
4.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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