Reviews for Korea: Where the American Century Began:
Our Korea review: Michael Pembroke on the consequences of US failure in the ’50s
Reviewer: John Schauble – Sydney Morning Herald, Entertainment – 8 March, 2018
The 170-metre Juche tower in Pyongyang is a compulsory stop for visitors to the North Korean capital. The panorama of the entire city stretches out below. The spectacle of leaden Stalinist architecture led one among a group I was there with some years ago to ask of our guide: “Where is the old part of the city?”
There is no old city because, as Michael Pembroke notes, the US-led forces dropped a greater tonnage of bombs during the Korean conflict than in the Pacific theatre during World War II. Pyongyang was all but obliterated, its population dropping to just 50,000 under an intense carpet bombing campaign aimed at rendering it and every other North Korean city to rubble. For good measure, this was the first war in which napalm was used extensively, although its horror would only become apparent to a wider public during the Vietnam conflict.
To put North Korea 2018 in context, read Australian Michael Pembroke on the Korean War
Reviewer: David Stephens – Honest History – 6 March, 2018
The book’s strengths are its lucid prose, its command of a wide range of sources (including declassified material), the author’s ability to balance passion with forensic detail, and the way in which he places the Korean conflict of 1950-53 firmly within the long sweep of Korean history. The surprise – for this writer, at least – comes in how loudly the story of Korea 1950-53 resonates today.
And if anyone wonders why North Korea today seems to be ‘the paranoid peninsula’, Pembroke’s description of Pyongyang after American scorched earth policies and saturation bombing provides part of the answer.
Review: Korea by Michael Pembroke
Reviewer: Eric Mayer – ArtsHub – 13 March, 2018
‘It is harsh, authoritarian, repressive and secretive, and its continuing economic and structural problems are largely of its own making. Much of its retardation has been self-inflicted – a direct result of the huge and disproportionate expenditure on its military, its socialist economic principles and the greed, graft and moral obloquy of the ruling elite.’
Such quotes demonstrate some of the fascinating detail and flavour of Korea, and show the depth of Pembroke’s research, but they are no substitute for reading the book, which also includes more than 50 pages of notes and other material to facilitate further reading. (In addition, the book has an excellent index.) Ideally, this book should be read, studied and absorbed by anyone interested in world affairs, but above all by anyone who wishes to understand the dilemma that is now facing the world with a corrupt regime seeking to protect itself against a former merciless attacker.
How the Korean War set the stage for permanent crisis in northeastern Asia
Reviewer: Blaine Harden – Washington Post – 16 August, 2018
‘Provocative…. timely, readable and deeply researched…. Deliver[s] crucial information Americans need to understand the permanent crisis in Southeast Asia…. For readers capable of looking beyond an America First understanding of how the world works, Pembroke’s analysis is chillingly relevant.’
Korea: Where the American Century Began
Reviewer: Noah Cruickshank – Shelf Awareness for Readers – 21 August, 2018
‘The book is a must-read for anyone who wants better to understand modern American diplomacy, and is a reminder that history should not be disregarded, since it holds the keys to the decisions the great powers make today.’
Michael Pembroke’s Korea: Where the American Century Began is a harrowing, eye-opening account of the Korean War, leaving no side unaccountable for the mistakes, atrocities and bad faith. It considers how the U.S. intervention in the Korean civil war is one of the most consequential, and least analyzed, decisions in American history.
‘The colour and dash of Arthur Phillip’s extraordinary life, lived in amazing times in every corner of the world, is told just brilliantly in Michael Pembroke’s utterly absorbing book, designed to become a classic of Imperial literature.’