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1. Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern
2. The History of South Africa (The
3. Republic of South Korea 1957-1959:
4. From Transition to Power Alternation
5. South Korea Since 1980 (The World
6. Nation Building in South Korea:
7. A History of Contemporary Korea
8. The History of Korea
9. Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae Jung and
10. Troubled Tiger: Businessmen, Bureaucrats
11. The Two Koreas
12. Bipolar Orders: The Two Koreas
13. A Concise History of Modern Korea:
14. Han Unbound: The Political Economy
15. The Hidden History of the Korean
16. The Making of Minjung: Democracy
17. The Korean War
18. The Making of Modern Korea, Second
19. The Rise of the Korean Economy
20. The Warrior Worker: Challenge

1. Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History, Updated Edition
by Bruce Cumings
Paperback: 544 Pages (2005-09-19)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$9.76
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Asin: 0393327027
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"Passionate, cantankerous, and fascinating. Rather like Korea itself."--Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times Book ReviewKorea has endured a "fractured, shattered twentieth century," and this updated edition brings Bruce Cumings's leading history of the modern era into the present. The small country, overshadowed in the imperial era, crammed against great powers during the Cold War, and divided and decimated by the Korean War, has recently seen the first real hints of reunification. But positive movements forward are tempered by frustrating steps backward. In the late 1990s South Korea survived its most severe economic crisis since the Korean War, forcing a successful restructuring of its political economy. Suffering through floods, droughts, and a famine that cost the lives of millions of people, North Korea has been labeled part of an "axis of evil" by the George W. Bush administration and has renewed its nuclear threats. On both sides Korea seems poised to continue its fractured existence on into the new century, with potential ramifications for the rest of the world. 25 illustrationsAmazon.com Review
Bruce Cumings traces the growth of Korea from a string of competing walled city-states to its present dual nationhood. He examines the ways in which Korean culture has been influenced by Japan and China, and the ways in which it has subtly influenced its more powerful neighbors. Cumings also considers the recent changes in the South, where authoritarianism is giving way to democracy, and in the North, which Cumings depicts as a "socialist corporatist" state more like a neo-Confucian kingdom than a Stalinist regime. Korea's Place in the Sun does much to help Western readers understand the complexities of Korea's past and present. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
I had the privilege of visiting South Korea in 2001 as a tourist.Over the course of my life, I have met several Koreans thru work and school, and have read the occasional news article about the North - South division and nuclear politics.I joined Samsung this year, and one of my orientation sessions was in a reading room that contained numerous texts on Korea.This book was part of this collection.Wanting to know more about my new employer, I read this book in its entirety and came away quite satisfied.Coming in at over 500 pages long, this book provides a chronological history of the Korean peninsula with an emphasis on the 20th century.The book touches on a whole multitude of topics ranging from the written language to kimchi to art, but the emphasis is on politics and economics, and how bigger more powerful neighbors have often played decisive roles in Korea.These neighbors include the USSR/Russia, Japan, China, and the US.With regards to the post-WW2 era, the author takes a balanced look at Korea, with equal emphasis on how the North developed and views the South, and how the South developed and views the North.Both are quite enlightening.The author also does a wonderful job of citing the available literature on this topic, ranging from previous books by expatriates, to CIA documents from various Cold War events.Overall, a great book and a very enjoyable read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review of KOREA'S PLACE IN THE SUN
This history of modern Korea remedies to a large extent the paucity of Wnglish texts on the subject. The author is Professor of History at the University of Chicago. It provides a good understanding of the place of Korea in the modern world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Perspective on Korean History
This scholarly work is extremely well documented and annotated and, at the same time, relates current aspects of Korean life to its origins as far back as 2,000+ years ago.

5-0 out of 5 stars So much confidence in Korea
Bruce Cumings interpretation of Korean history shows off a confidence in which he accords the current Western acceptance of a Japanese-centric view of Korea's historical importance to be temporary and transitory when only viewed in light of not just contemporary Korean history, but in the context of Korean history in its entirety. The title of his book, Korea's Place in the Sun, shines this confidence in all aspects of his analysis, in his prose as well, of Korea.

4-0 out of 5 stars Too bad for the cover, right? Great book!
Super detailed - almost to a fault. For me, it was an incredible read that I was hungry for - I didn't any more beginner's guides and overviews - I wanted detail and detail is what this book has. I strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with ancient and modern Korean history prior to reading this book because Cumings doesn't slow down for anyone - and for that I applaud him. Nicely done and recommended for anyone interested in more than a intro course on Korean history.

However I want to chime in and say this book is exactly what it claims to be - a one volume course on Korean history. Get ready for a level of detail that might scare you. Take notes because Mr. Cumings has and he is not afraid to site his sources.

Finally, he makes especially moving descriptions of the Korean war and demystifies the Miracle on the Han ... Read more

2. The History of South Africa (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)
by Roger B. Beck
Paperback: 280 Pages (2008-10-30)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$23.74
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Asin: 0313360898
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To quote the title of Nelson Mandela's 1994 autobiography, it has been a long walk to freedom. The history of South Africa, one of the oldest inhabited places on earth, is also the story of one of the newest nations, made and remade over the last century. This compellingly written history of South Africa, from prehistoric times through 1999, is the only up-to-date history of the nation. Beginning with an overview of the modern nation, this narrative history traces South Africa from prehistory through the European invasions, the settlement by the Dutch, the imposition of British rule, the many internecine wars for control of the nation, the institution of apartheid, and, finally, freedom for all South Africans in 1994 and the Mandela years 1994-1999.

Twin themes of colonial rule and racism intertwine over the course of the last three hundred and fifty years. Beck, a specialist in the history of South Africa, illuminates the conflicts, personalities, and tragedies of South African history over this period, culminating in the end of apartheid in 1994, the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, and his formation of a new government. Brief sketches of key people in the history of South Africa, a glossary of terms, maps, and a bibliographic essay of suggested reading complete the work. Every library should update its resources on South Africa with this engagingly written and authoritative history.

... Read more

3. Republic of South Korea 1957-1959: The Challenge to the People After Occupation and War
by William Murdoch
Paperback: 232 Pages (2006-12-19)
list price: US$14.49 -- used & new: US$13.96
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Asin: 1425983138
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The author served in the United States Army MedicalCorps in the South Pacific in World War II. Thankfully for America and the nowfree Republic of Korea America and its' allies won that war. This allowed us anopportunity to contribute toward The Republic of South Korea's socio-economicand industrial successes.The South Korean construction contractor'smanagement, staff are part of this story.¿Under great odds they eventually established a viable constructioncontractor base.¿ They performedconstruction work for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Far EastDistrict building military facilities. Forty-five years ago the author a CivilService Construction Contract Administrator and his staff helped understand andsolve the unique problems faced by our office and the contractors to get thejob done under insurmountable challenges.The capable men and women of "The Seoul Builder'sClub," and their members should today be proud of their past accomplishments. This memoir and history is dedicated to "The SeoulBuilder's Club," of Seoul in the Republic of South Korea. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Republic of South Korea 1957-1959
It was very well written and easy reading. Kept your attention and was very informative. ... Read more

4. From Transition to Power Alternation : Democracy in South Korea, 1987-1997 (East Asia : History, Politics, Sociology, Culture)
by Carl J. Saxer
Hardcover: 278 Pages (2002-08-23)
list price: US$150.00 -- used & new: US$146.00
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Asin: 0415933935
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In 1987 South Korea began a democratic transition after almost three decades of significant economic development under authoritarian rule. Increased civil unrest caused by dissatisfaction resulted in the regime agreeing to constitutional changes in the summer of 1987. By 1992 the first president without a military background was elected and during his tenure a further deepening of democracy took place. These reforms were instrumental in making it possible that in 1997 for the first time in South Korean history an opposition candidate was elected president. This book examines the initial transition and later attempts at consolidating democracy in South Korea, and argues that although significant progress had been made and a power alternation achieved by late 1997, South Korea could not, by the end of that decade (1987-97), be considered a consolidated democracy. ... Read more

5. South Korea Since 1980 (The World Since 1980)
by Uk Heo, Terence Roehrig
Paperback: 232 Pages (2010-06-28)
list price: US$27.99 -- used & new: US$19.20
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Asin: 0521743532
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This book examines the changes in politics, economics, society, and foreign policy in South Korea since 1980. Starting with a brief description of its history leading up to 1980, this book deals with South Korea's transition to democracy, the stunning economic development achieved since the 1960s, the 1997 financial crisis, and the economic reforms that followed and concludes with the North Korean nuclear crisis and foreign relations with regional powers. The theoretical framework of this book addresses how democratization affected all of these dimensions of South Korea. For instance, democratization allowed for the more frequent alternation of political elites from conservative to liberal and back to conservative. These elites initiated different policies for dealing with North Korea and held different views on South Korea's role in its alliance with the United States. Consequently, ideological divides in South Korean politics became more stark and the political process more combative. ... Read more

6. Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy (The New Cold War History)
by Gregg Brazinsky
Hardcover: 384 Pages (2007-09-03)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$14.00
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Asin: 0807831204
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In this ambitious and innovative study Gregg Brazinsky examines American nation building in South Korea during the Cold War. Marshalling a vast array of new American and Korean sources, he explains why South Korea was one of the few postcolonial nations that achieved rapid economic development and democratization by the end of the twentieth century. Brazinsky contends that a distinctive combination of American initiatives and Korean agency enabled South Korea's stunning transformation. On one hand, Americans supported the emergence of a developmental autocracy that spurred economic growth in a highly authoritarian manner. On the other hand, Americans sought to encourage democratization from the bottom up by fashioning new institutions and promoting a dialogue about modernization and development.

Expanding the framework of traditional diplomatic history, Brazinsky examines not only state-to-state relations, but also the social and cultural interactions between Americans and South Koreans. He shows how Koreans adapted, resisted, and transformed American influence and promoted socioeconomic change that suited their own aspirations. Ultimately, Brazinsky argues, Koreans' capacity to tailor American institutions and ideas to their own purposes was the most important factor in the making of a democratic South Korea. ... Read more

7. A History of Contemporary Korea
by Man-gil Korea University Kang
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2005-11-03)
list price: US$107.00 -- used & new: US$64.99
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Asin: 1905246056
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Now available in English, this important new contribution from a distinguished Korean historian on the history of twentieth-century Korea is divided into two parts: first, the Japanese colonial period, including detailed accounts of the anti Japanese independence movements, followed by the liberation of Korea, the Korean War and political developments up to the late 1980s. Acknowledgement is also made of the work of North Korean scholars. ... Read more

8. The History of Korea
by Djun Kil Kim
Kindle Edition: 232 Pages (2004-12-31)
list price: US$20.00
Asin: B001CEQH4Q
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Koreas are two of the few countries in the East Asian world to successfully maintain political and cultural independence from China. Originated by the Han-Ye-Maek people who had migrated from North China to Manchuria and the Korean peninsula since 2000 BCE, three Korean dynasties—Great Silla, Koryo, and Choson—kept peace and prosperity in the country since the 7th century, nurturing a civilization based on Buddhism, Confucianism and the East Asian world-system. Korea, despite experiencing Japanese dominion and the nation's division, now looks forward to enjoying its prosperity as a member of the global community and to seeing a unified Korea. This volume provides a comprehensive review of Korea's history, from its roots in Neolithic civilization, and the tradition and evolution of nation-building in the traditional East Asian world system, through Korea's global setting in modern times. Also included are a biographical section highlighting famous figures in Korean history, a timeline of important historical events, a glossary of Korean terms, and a bibliographical essay with suggestions for further reading.

The historical origin of Korean identity in the East Asian world, Korea's failure to adapt to a changing East Asian world-system, as well as the political division Korea suffered in the second half of the 20th century are discussed. Readers will benefit from the inclusion of direct translations from original classical Chinese and Korean sources by the author. Excellent as a reference tool for students and general readers interested in the history of this unique nation.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Korean historian + English language = a hit
A Korean history book written by a Korean scholar. Finally. A breath of fresh air into the small niche Korean history genre, this finely written text is free from fluff, striking biasedness and needless rhetoric. The author knows his stuff and acknowledges his faults and viewpoint up front preparing the reader for an in depth look into Korean history and how it shapes the present.

This text isn't free from faults, though. It is completely devoid of graphics and illustrations save for a small handful of old kingdom maps. It also scantly covers the modern history; a possible oversight seeing as the series is titled "The modern nations..." Although it doesn't imply a modern history, one can see how a casual reader might pick up the book looking for a modern history only to find medieval and japanese colonization as it's focus point.

All in all, it's a great read and follows a similar flow of Micheal Breen's "the Koreans...". I would recommend this read for anyone looking for a brushup in general or a closer look at the Japanese colonization period.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Korean history
This book, I believe, is a great introduction to the Korean history including North and South Koreas together.It is so well structured and easily written that the complexity of the East Asian country's long history comes to a reader's mind with a clear map of it. Having covered the country's history from the beginning to the present, it would satisfy those who want to know, refresh, or deepen the knowledge of the history of Korea.
A distinct strength of the book is that it has a strong narrative that consistently offers a comparative historical framework whereby almost every bit of historical facts is symmetrically rearranged through the contrast between idealism and realism.The comparative framework was put into, I guess, since one cannot fully understand the country's history without considering the constant existence of imperialist powers - specifically, China and Japan from long ago, and Russia and the U.S. appeared later in its modern history - around the Korean peninsula.
Against this backdrop, idealism has represented a political bloc which stressed the nation-state's independence from outside powers and sometimes tried to overturn the old paradigm in which the country was forced to take a subordinate position, especially with regard to China proper.To the contrary, realism has aimed to maintain the country's survival even at the cost of losing nationalistic pride to some extent with a full recognition of the international power order in the Far Eastern Asian region.The author shows that Korean history was full of the struggles between these two extreme antipodes of political views.Even apart from the book itself, the framework may be a powerful tool to understand Korea's present and future.For instance, it should be noted that the conflict is still going on if we think of the nuclear crisis between North Korea and the U.S. over a decade: North Korea has believed that its nuclear program would at least help protect its independence, or furthermore give it a strong balancing power against the U.S., whereas South Korea has wanted to resolve the crisis through a series of the international six-party talks because it takes a realistic view that the crisis could bring a disastrous outcome for both North and South Koreas.
The book conveys not only hard cash of the Korean history but also soft lubricator of its cultural heritage to readers by presenting not a few nicely translated literary works from ancient times to modern period.The poems, various excerpts of old historical documents, or an eloquent statement of independence would invite a reader to some historic moments of vicissitudes of Korea.
In a nutshell, this book has much potential to provide an unbiased and clear understanding of Korean history for English-speaking audiences.
... Read more

9. Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae Jung and Sunshine
by Donald Kirk
Hardcover: 272 Pages (2009-11-15)
list price: US$80.00 -- used & new: US$62.39
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Asin: 0230620485
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For the first time, using original sources and his own reporting going back to 1972 when he met Kim Dae Jung at his home in Seoul, Donald Kirk explores the great untold story of modern Korean history. This book recounts the rise of Kim Dae Jung from an oppressed region of Korea, beginning with his schooldays, his activities in the Korean War and his entry into politics. The book addresses his populist politics, his ascent to the national stage and his encounters first with the dictators who tried to take his life and then had him tried and sentenced to death for the Kwangju revolt. The book outlines DJ’s life in exile in the United States, his great return to Korea and his entry into presidential politics climaxed by his election in 1997 at the height of economic crisis. Focusing on DJ’s Sunshine policy, his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Il and his drive for the Nobel, the book tells the story of payments that brought about the summit and the prize as well as the corruption that ensnared his sons and top aides.

... Read more

10. Troubled Tiger: Businessmen, Bureaucrats and Generals in South Korea (East Gate Book)
by Mark L. Clifford
Paperback: 392 Pages (1997-12)
list price: US$32.95 -- used & new: US$30.69
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Asin: 0765601419
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant look inside the 'Korean miracle'
An excellent overview of South Korea's political economy over its brief history. With all the talk of Asian and Korean miracles, it's good to see a book that actually takes a closer look and exposes some of the darker side. Korea has done a phenomenonal job, but it should be remembered that a lot of it was due to almost inhumane working hours, and brutal repression of labour. For that reason, I think pundits are a bit off when they talk about applying the Korean development model to other developing countries.
Like all journalists, Clifford is prone to sweeping generalisations, but it's a small flaw. He's also clearly not an economist, and overstretches a little with his economic analysis.

4-0 out of 5 stars Well-focused but don't look for much on Korean life here
Clifford's book is a well-written and well-organized chronicle of the rise and fall (as of the Kim Young Sam administration) of the Korean economy. The book reads as an economic history, moving rapidly from event to event and personality to personality in the chain of events connecting postwar reconstruction to the beginnings of the 1997 financial crisis. It is definitely an outsider's perspective, however, with little feel for the impact of these events on the average Korean citizen or even the foreign resident in Korea. Caught up in the retelling of the Park Chung Hee regime, the casual reader can easily overlook the fact that the "Businessmen, Bureaucrats and Generals" rode to power on the backs of millions of average, hardworking citizens, and that the intrigues, scandals, frauds and corruption had and continue to have direct effects on the lives of unnamed thousands, many of whom have lost their jobs, homes, and even lives because of the corruption rampant in the ruling class. A sequel, or revision, that chronicles the administration of Kim Dae Jung (1997-2001) would be very welcome from this author because of his attention to detail and forceful writing style, but if you're looking for insight into everyday life in Korea, or the more mundane facets of Korean culture, this is not the book for you.

4-0 out of 5 stars a highly readable account of South Korea's economy
Mark Clifford is a journalist and "Troubled Tiger" is a highly readable account of South Korea's economy through the 1980s.It is not a particularly analytical nor is it deep in an academic sense, but some of the anecdotal material is simply stunning.The revised edition has an epilogue that in tries to bring the story "up-to-date" but it has a tacked on feel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Troubled Tiger - Accurate, Readable, and Interesting
For anyone doing business in South Korea or thinking about it -- this is a must read.Or even if you are contemplating living there for whatever reason.Mark Clifford writes, in an easy to read style, a very accurateand interesting depiction of the development of South Korea's economy fromone of the world's poorest in the 1950's to a fairly advanced successfulone in 2000.No other country has achieved the remarkable success of SouthKorea in such a short time.Clifford writes about who, what and and howthey did it -- a tight combination of government, businessmen, and themilitary -- highly recommended! ... Read more

11. The Two Koreas
by Don Oberdorfer
Paperback: 483 Pages (1999-04-01)
list price: US$20.65
Isbn: 0751526681
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Cold War is over in the rest of the world, but confrontation continues to grow on the bitterly divided peninsula of Korea, where two of the world's largest and most powerful armies - along with 37,000 US troops - face each other across the demilitarized zone, ready to resume fighting at a moment's notice. This book sets out to explain Korean history as well as the potential political and economic crises of the current situation. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

3-0 out of 5 stars 'Definitive' History a Definite Letdown
Watch Video Here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R20JINHCDRKS3V Brief, general impressions of Don Oberdorfer's 'definitive' account of modern North and South Korea. The reviewer lives in S. Korea and was disappointed with the author's treatment of major figures in Korean history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great First Book on Modern Korea by a Good Writer - Not an old-school history book
Don Oberdorfer's "The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History" is the perfect first book for anyone interested in the history and trauma in Korea over the last 50 years.This text was required reading in a graduate-level course on the Government and Security in Korea.

Oberdorfer knows Korea.From his first visit in 1953 as an Army Lieutenant through his interviews of the presidential candidates before the 1987 election, and his visit to Pyongyang in 1991, Oberdorfer continually followed Korean politics - mostly from the seat of a press member for the Washington Post.As he recounts in the text, Oberdorfer was sitting in the National Theater in Seoul on August 15th, 1974 when the shots rang out at ROK President Park Chung Hee, killing the ROK First Lady, the president survived.This personal touch of first hand accounts, compiled with interviews of major actors in Korean politics (both U.S., North Korean, and South Korean), is seamlessly rolled together in a readable narrative that draws the reader into this contemporary history.

The text covers the inside stories and under-the-table events which occurred between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from mostly first hand sources in the form of interviews with the participants.

I highly recommend this book for anyone studying Korea, Asian politics, or the military situation on the Korean peninsula.A 40-page notes and sources section serves the reader with the basis for Oberdorfer's statements and claims, and lends itself to more in depth research of the primary sources.

1-0 out of 5 stars Style Over Substance
Don Oberdorfer's The Two Korea's is a triumph of style over substance.To be sure, Oberdorfer is a compelling writer and he tells the story of North and South Korea since the 1970s with a great deal of flair.But Oberdorfer's overall knowledge of Korea and Korean history is very shallow.Oberdorfer does not speak or read Korean and he can only use Korean sources that have been translated for him.His research in Korean materials is very thin and as a result the book does not yield a good understanding of the Korean perspective on events that were occurring.His knowledge of Korean history before the 1970s is also lacking.His telling of the events of the last three decades could have been greatly enriched by a deeper understanding of how the actions taken by Korea's leaders during this period were rooted in Korea's long history and fascinating culture.In short, Oberdorfer, like many of the Washington area journalists who write about Korea without ever bothering to learn the language or study Korean history, is really just a dabbler in Korean politics.His work may satisfy those who want asuperficial telling of recent events but is useless to those who want to gain a deeper understanding of Korean history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding overview of recent Korean history
Anyone who wants to brush up on the issues surrounding North and South Korea would do well to pick up this volume.It is well written and actually enjoyable to read.You will also pick up a lot of historical tidbits from the era from the author who was actually there as a reporter.Especially interesting were his observations of North Korea made during a trip there.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a book!
I cannot recall reading a book which covers a country's contemporary history in such an interesting and insightful way. ... Read more

12. Bipolar Orders: The Two Koreas since 1989 (Global History of the Present)
by Hyung Gu Lynn
Hardcover: 192 Pages (2007-11-15)
list price: US$80.00 -- used & new: US$72.77
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Asin: 1842777424
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In Bipolar Orders, Hyung Gu Lynn examines both North Korea and South Korea since the 1980's. While North Korea has experienced severe economic deterioration and increasing international isolation, South Korea has undergone democratization and witnessed the emergence of a vibrant consumer culture. Paradoxically, this growing gap in ideologies and material standards has led to improved relations between the two countries. Why has this counterintuitive development occurred? Is North Korea really a threat, and if so, to whom? .
... Read more

13. A Concise History of Modern Korea: From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present
by Michael J. Seth
Paperback: 304 Pages (2009-10-15)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$24.16
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Asin: 0742567133
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This comprehensive and balanced history of modern Korea explores the social, economic, and political issues it has faced since being catapulted into the wider world at the end of the nineteenth century. Placing this formerly insular society in a global context, Michael J. Seth describes how this ancient, culturally and ethnically homogeneous society first fell victim to Japanese imperialist expansionism, and then was arbitrarily divided in half after World War II. Seth traces the postwar paths of the two Koreas_with different political and social systems and different geopolitical orientations_as they evolved into sharply contrasting societies. Considering the radically different trajectories of North and South Korea, Seth assesses the insights they offer for understanding modern Korea in global perspective. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine Overview; 4.5 Stars
In crucial respects, Korea is arguably the oldest nation in the world.People of Korean ethnicity-language group have occupied essentially the same region for centuries with a remarkable degree of cultural and institutional continuity.To an unparalleled extent, Korea has been a unified state for centuries.In the late 19th century, Korea was overwhelmingly rural, discouraged foreign trade, very socially stratified, had been ruled by the same dynasty for centuries, and was more Confucian in its intellectual culture and institutions than China itself.In the early 21st century, Korea is divided and its 2 different halves the products of 2 remarkably different approaches to achieving modernization.

In this clearly written and concise book, Michael Seth outlines the very interesting history of how this happened.Seth begins with the late 19th century structure of Korea and the powerful forces that destroyed traditional Korean society.A small nation surrounded by a much larger and turbulent China, a rapidly modernizing Japan, and the expanding Russian empire, plus the aggressions of other western Imperial powers, Korea's traditional position and society was untenable.Seth outlines well how the Korean elite attempted to fend off other powers, and how a small number of Koreans attempted to push Korea down a path to modernity.Following the success of the Japanese in its wars against China and Russia, Korea became a protectorate and then an outright colony of Japan.Much of what would happen subsequently in Korea has its roots in the colonial period.The Japanese were exploitative and often brutal overloads but also began to develop modern educational systems and the initial industrialization of Korea.The disparate response of Koreans to the Japanese occupation also had lasting political consequences.Many Koreans became Japanese clients and many of these individuals became our clients in post-WWII era.Some Koreans who resisted the Japanese actively became leftist partisans and from their ranks would emerge the leaders of North Korea.These divergent paths made possible, though not inevitable, the civil war that would become the devastating Korean war.As Seth points out, one of the major effects of Japanese colonization and WWII would be the wholesale disruption of traditional Korean life, one of the factors that made the great transformations of the post-WWII era feasible.

Seth provides a very even-handed discussion of the Korean war and its causes, stressing the civil nature of the conflict and its entanglement with the Cold war.The arbitrary division of the peninsula and the devastation of the war are laid out well.This section is followed by a nice series of chapters laying out the post-war development of the 2 Koreas, a markedly contrasting story of 2 different paths to modernization, one leading to a prosperous and democratic state, the other to what the historian Bruce Cumings terms a poverty stricken "nationalistic monarchy."Unavoidably, there is more discussion of South Korea than the North because of the limitations of the documentary record.The discussions of South Korean politics and economic modernization, an intelligent application of state power, are very interesting.

In terms of achieving a concise overview without being superficial, this book is a real success.A couple of additions would have nice.A detailed map would be useful. There is an annotated bibliography but a longer such addendum would enhance this book.Finally, a few summary charts or tables on demography, economic indicators, educational indicators, etc., would enhance the book.Nonetheless, an admirable performance. ... Read more

14. Han Unbound: The Political Economy of South Korea
by John Lie
Hardcover: 276 Pages (1998-03-01)
list price: US$57.95 -- used & new: US$20.00
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Asin: 0804730555
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This book reveals how South Korea was transformed from one of the poorest and most agrarian countries in the world in the 1950’s to one of the richest and most industrialized states by the late 1980’s. The author argues that South Korea’s economic, cultural, and political development was the product of a unique set of historical circumstances that cannot be replicated elsewhere, and that only by ignoring the costs and negative consequences of development can South Korea’s transformation be described as an unqualified success.

The historical circumstances include a thoroughgoing land reform that forced children of former landlords to move to the cities to make their fortunes, a very low-paid labor force, and the threat from North Korea and the consequent American presence. The costs of development included the exploitation of labor (as late as 1986, South Korean factory workers had the longest hours in the world and earned less than their counterparts in Mexico and Brazil), undemocratic politics, and despoliation of the environment. The title of the book suggests the ambivalence of South Korean development: “Han” refers both to South Korea (Han’guk) and to the cultural expression of resentment or dissatisfaction (han).

Because the author sees South Korean development as contingent on a variety of particular circumstances, he ranges widely to include not only the information typically gathered by sociologists and political economists, but also insights gained from examining popular tastes and values, poetry, fiction, and ethnography, showing how all of these aspects of South Korean life help elucidate his main themes. The result is the most comprehensive and informative account available of the extraordinary changes that brought South Korea to the forefront among major industrialized nations at the end of the twentieth century.

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15. The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950-1951: A Nonconformist History of Our Times
by I. F. Stone
Paperback: 368 Pages (1988-10)
list price: US$8.95
Isbn: 0316817708
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Hobo Philosopher
If we accept the premise that the U.S. government had theoretically declared war against Russia in 1917 when the Russian army decided to walk off the battlefields of Europe and establish a "worker" state. And then add the point of view that it was the Free World Capitalists from the U.S. and elsewhere who financed Adolf Hitler with the intent of using Hitler and his Nazi State to attack and destroy Russia. And then we view the post war Marshall Plan and the establishment of NATO as further steps in isolating Russia as an enemy. And follow all this logic with the "Cold War" strategy to box Russia in militarily and economically, we have the foundations for this journalistic indictment.

This entire attitude stems from the American Capitalist government's strong aversion to the rights or advancement of labor organizations at home and abroad. It has become clear to me from my research of the American and world labor movement that from this country's beginnings it has been at war with "workers" and the working man mentality. When and if one takes all of this into consideration the goals and intent of both MacArthur and Truman as pointed out elaborately and in detail in this book become more than understandable.

I feel that this book is accurate in all of its details with only one small flaw. As Mr. Ambrose also points out, North Korea did not really need to be "tricked" or lured into a belligerent attitude. Current day events point out clearly that North Korea has always had its problems when it comes to aggression.
But that one point made, I don't think that fact diminishes the exceptional fact finding report conducted in this book by Mr. Stone.

General MacArthur comes off very, very bad in my estimation. He was not frightened of nuclear power, since the U.S. had the command of it at that moment. The idea that MacArthur was inciting the easily excitable North Koreans so that he could then suck in the Chinese followed by the Russians for a lopsided nuclear World War III seems truly frightening. Mr. Stone makes it very clear that it was MacArthur intention to eventually nuke China and Russia.

Truman did not want to nuke anybody but he did encourage MacArthur and a crisis. Truman used the Korean conflict in order to promote his domestic and foreign policy political objectives according to Stone.
Truman wanted the Marshall Plan and NATO defenses for Europe and continued wartime military investment at home to keep America out of a post war recession that could possibly give the Russians the upper hand economically and in the ideological battle for the hearts and minds of capitalists and communist everywhere, according to Stone.

I have just ordered two more of Mr. Stone's works. I. F. Stone was a journalist recording, with super insights and amazing perspective, the news of his day. Today these works can be considered history - and great history at that. Mr. Stone was a radical. He calls himself a non-conformist. If I. F. Stone is a radical, we need more radicals and non-conformists of his caliber today.

Books written by Richard Noble - The Hobo Philosopher:
"Hobo-ing America: A Workingman's Tour of the U.S.A.."
"A Summer with Charlie" Salisbury Beach
"A Little Something: Poetry and Prose
"Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" Novel - Lawrence, Ma.
"The Eastpointer" Selections from award winning column.
"Noble Notes on Famous Folks" Humor - satire - and facts.
"America on Strike" Labor History

5-0 out of 5 stars Exposing US lies
A must read. Published during the war, I.F. Stone exposes US military communiques on the criminal bombing of North Korea which killed 2 million civilians, one-quarter of the population, as well as the use of millions of gallons of napalm on the civilian population.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is one of the best books about the korean war.
I.f Stone presents a very well documented case much of what most peopleknow about the Korean War is false. A must read. ... Read more

16. The Making of Minjung: Democracy and the Politics of Representation in South Korea
by Namhee Lee
Hardcover: 349 Pages (2007-10)
list price: US$41.95 -- used & new: US$19.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0801445663
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In this sweeping intellectual and cultural history of the minjung ("common people's") movement in South Korea, Namhee Lee shows how the movement arose in the 1970s and 1980s in response to the repressive authoritarian regime and grew out of a widespread sense that the nation's "failed history" left Korean identity profoundly incomplete. The Making of Minjung captures the movement in its many dimensions, presenting its intellectual trajectory as a discourse, its impact as a political movement, as well as raising questions about how intellectuals represented the minjung. Lee's portrait is based on a wide range of sources: underground pamphlets, diaries, court documents, contemporary newspaper reports, and interviews with participants.

Thousands of students and intellectuals left universities during this period and became factory workers, forging an intellectual-labor alliance perhaps unique in world history. At the same time, minjung cultural activists reinvigorated traditional folk theater, created a new "minjung literature," and impacted religious practices and academic disciplines. In its transformative scope, the minjung phenomenon is comparable to better-known contemporaneous movements in South Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

Understanding the minjung movement is essential to understanding South Korea's recent resistance to U.S. influence. Along with its well-known economic transformation, South Korea has also had a profound social and political transformation. The minjung movement drove this transformation and this book tells its story comprehensively and critically. ... Read more

17. The Korean War
by Brian Catchpole
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2000-09-07)

Isbn: 0094802300
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In June 1950 the North Koreans invaded South Korea. This book recounts these military operations, the slogging war on the ground as well as the UN naval superiority and the importance of air power. It also explains the diplomatic background of international relations between China and the West, the communist propaganda in the north, the issue of prisoners-of-war, the talks leading to armistice and the creation of the demilitarized zone. The war enabled the UN to act in an official capacity to defend a state under military attack , the only time during the Cold War it did so. But it did not enhance the reputation of the UN for resolving international disputes. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars United Nations War
The author, Brian Catchpole is British, and the book notes all the British units fighting in the war, as well as all the other United Nations troops. United States troops are also included, as they provided most of the troops, next to the Koreans, but the Brits provided the 2nd most, after the U.S.British Commandos were in the fighting at the Chosin Reservoir, for example.
The horrendous intelligence failure to see over 300,000 Chinese troops is noted, as the stupidity of Gen Almond to want to continue the advance to the Yalu in spite of the masses of Chinese attacking.
The book includes chapters not usually included in this war.
There are chapters about the role of the Navy,and Air Force, and special operations behind the lines.
The contributions of the Greeks, Turks, French, Canadians, Kiwis. and Australians, Filipinos, and Thais are included.
The Koreans did the most suffering, by the millions. Souel was a ruin, having been taken 4 times in the War twice by the Chinese, twice by us.
The Japanese were the big benefactors of the war, with billions of military spending causing a boom in Japan. Japan was our repair shop, storage shop, and they made many of our vehicles.
For example, the Toyota president had tried just before the war started to form a partnership with Ford. Ford refused, and then Toyota had to make thousands of vehicles on its own for the military when the war broke out, and kept all the profit.
The POW issue is included.
The war was forgotten before it even ended. When troops came home, no one welcomed them. The public did not even notice.
The Brits did not declassifiy much of the Korean War information until the 1990.s.
Differences in equipment were noted, with the Brits with their sten guns and rum ration, the Canadians with huge supplies of Labatt beer.
The battles of the Hook and Pork ChopHill are gone into in some detail, as they were the final battles.
A chapter is included on the various perspectives on the war from the different country' points of view. The McCarthy era, Ike, is discussed, as well as the effect in China and Britain.

It is a very good book for an overall view of the Korean war, especially if you are British.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Korean War: 1950-53, by Brian Catchpole
In this book, Brian Catchpole provides a political and military history of the movements and actions leading up to the war and on through to 1953.Although this book does not get bogged down in any one facet of the war, it does do a good job at covering the political plans of President Truman, the tactical maneuvers of Gen. MacArthur and his commanders, and the grinding ground/sea/air battles that took place.

Some will be astonished at the power that MacArthur wielded as the commander of U.N. forces.He was quite a diplomat, building a coalition of nations to fight the Chinese and Russian fortified North Korean People's Army (NKPA).

The book also gives the reader a good insight into the life of an infantryman, be it the 8th Army, X Corp, or Republic of Korea (ROK) regiments, trying to survive the cold Korean winters and defend against crushing attacks.

No single book can cover all of what transpired during the Korean War, but this book should satisfy all but the most erudite war buff.

4-0 out of 5 stars Review of "The Korean War"
For those of us born in the years immediately following World War II, the start of the Cold War was one of those dark ghosts that would haunt us until middle age.To me, the Korean War marks the formal recognition that the First and Second Worlds had irreconcilable differences that would not soon disappear.America began a conscious effort to change its political system and military philosophy and doctrine to cope with this challenge. The Korean War was also the tangible manifestation that the Cold War would be a global contest.Thereafter America looked at Asia and the world outside of Europe differently.

Otherwise it was so reminiscent of the other large wars of the Twentieth Century.A megalomaniac autocrat sends his army to overwhelm a weak neighbor.The weak neighbor through bravery, desperation, and limited help from a hard-pressed ally, militarily unprepared and with a politically indifferent populace, narrowly fends-off the invader until the US can bring the might of its resources to bear.In this way it was eerily similar to the way the First World War started, was fought, and ended.

This book tells the history of the Korean War -- mostly from a British perspective -- from the individual heroism of the Black Watch in the battle of the Hook to the efforts various British governments to support the UN effort.Despite this perspective, Catchpole is careful to maintain a balance with the narrative of the general military and political context.The book does not neglect the important battles that American forces fought, nor does it neglect the ROK army.Douglas MacArthur, America's proconsul to Japan, comes off as out-of-touch and immensely egotistical.The decision to fire him was not a result of a sudden epiphany, but a culmination of minor and major insubordinations.

One of the basest insults for a soldier is that he is prepared for the last war.Indeed the soldiers of the Korean War, especially the British, should have been complemented for remembering the lessons and being prepared to re-fight the First World War.The book recounts, the appalling monotony in which the Chinese attacked, often at division strength, and were slaughtered as they attempted to take the prepared British defenses.

Catchpole's book is a reminder that the Korean War was a UN war.Although the military effort was predominantly American, the other contingents bore the brunt of the fighting out of proportion to their sizes.Politically, the support of America's allies was indispensable to maintaining the effort in a place most Americans cared little about and would just as soon forget. ... Read more

18. The Making of Modern Korea, Second Edition
by Adrian Buzo
 Kindle Edition: 216 Pages (2009-01-21)
list price: US$43.95
Asin: B001QEAQTE
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No description available ... Read more

19. The Rise of the Korean Economy
by Byung-Nak Song
 Hardcover: 296 Pages (1990-07-26)
list price: US$29.95
Isbn: 019583979X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Within thirty years, and despite the aftereffects of colonial rule and devastating war, the Republic of Korea has transformed itself from an agricultural society to a modern industrial power free of debt.This transformation into a major trading nation has attracted worldwide attention.In this important book, a distinguished Korean economist provides an insider's view that traces the economy's development, analyzes the factors and policies that have led to success, draws some surprising contrasts with Japan, and identifies problems within the realms of labor, infrastructure, politics, and the role of conglomerates that will have a far-reaching impact on the country's future. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Educating
The book is a good reference and gives good insight of the Korean economy system and mentality. It is also a good introduction of Korean economy to people who are new to this issue.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good inside look at Korea's economic growth
There's nothing quite like getting an insider's view. Song provides this, having worked for the Korea Development Institute, and by just having been a Korean living in the country at the time. Most other English language accounts are given by foreigners who have spent a few years in the country, so Song has quite an advantage over them. He does overlook the darker side of the 'miracle' though, but you can find out all about that in a book like 'Troubled Tiger' my Mark Clifford. Bear in mind too, that Song is an academic, and so you won't find many interesting anecdotes here. But, like all good academics, he uses a wealth of hard data to back up his assertions, and provides interesting explanations of different aspects of the Korean economy. A great reference. ... Read more

20. The Warrior Worker: Challenge of the Korean Way of Working
by Robert Kearney
Hardcover: 250 Pages (1991-12-31)
-- used & new: US$81.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1850433437
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Editorial Review

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In just three decades, despite endemic political corruption, the continuous state of hostility with its northern neighbour, and the effects of years of foreign oppression, South Korea has achieved an economic miracle. The South Korean workforce, more disciplined and hard-working than the Japanese, is the key to the transformation, and is now becoming a model for other emergent Far-Eastern nations. But the economic success has been achieved at a cost. A rigid authoritarianism pervades all aspects of society, crushing all dissent and protest. This book examines the nature of South Korea's economic success, and asks whether the country's current prosperity is inextricably bound up with political repression. It also considers the threat that such an economically successful and politically undesirable system poses to the West. ... Read more

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