The Coldest Winter

  • by David Halberstam
  • Narrated by Edward Herrmann
  • 13 hrs and 53 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

David Halberstam's magisterial and thrilling The Best and the Brightest was the defining book for the Vietnam War. More than three decades later, Halberstam used his unrivalled research and formidable journalistic skills to shed light on another dark corner in our history: the Korean War. The Coldest Winter is a successor to The Best and the Brightest, even though, in historical terms, it precedes it. Halberstam considered The Coldest Winter the best book he ever wrote, the culmination of 45 years of writing about America's postwar foreign policy.Up until now, the Korean War has been the black hole of modern American history. The Coldest Winter changes that. Halberstam gives us a masterful narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides. He charts the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu, and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides astonishingly vivid and nuanced portraits of all the major figures: Eisenhower, Truman, Acheson, Kim, and Mao, and Generals MacArthur, Almond, and Ridgway. At the same time, Halberstam provides us with his trademark highly evocative narrative journalism, chronicling the crucial battles with reportage of the highest order.At the heart of this audiobook are the individual stories of the soldiers on the front lines who were left to deal with the consequences of the dangerous misjudgments and competing agendas of powerful men. We meet them, follow them, and see some of the most dreadful battles in history through their eyes. As ever, Halberstam was concerned with the extraordinary courage and resolve of people asked to bear an extraordinary burden.

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What the Critics Say

"Stirring....In a grand gesture of reclamation and remembrance, Mr. Halberstam has brought the war back home." (The New York Times)
"Alive with the voices of the men who fought, Halberstam's telling is a virtuoso work of history." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Almost as good as The Best and the Brightest

Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest has been judged to be one of the best books on Vietnam ever written, and he comes close to that standard with his Korean War book. Alternating between gripping battle scenes (based on interviews with particpants done by Halberstam) and analysis of the politics of the White House, of Congress, and of the military figures, the book races along like a fiction thriller. Here is Gen. Macarthur in all his billiance and in all his egotistical mania....the combination of which led to his downfall. Here is practical, common sense, stalwart Harry Truman....threading his way among generals who were out of touch with the ground forces, a Congress suddenly beguiled by Joe McCarthy's witch hunt, Joe Stalin, who wanted to cause the US some discomfort in Asia and who did not mind if the US caused his Chinese Communist allies some discomfort too, Mao Tse Tung, ready to show the imperialist West that its time in Asia was finished, Kim Il Sung, an over-confident war monger determined to unite Korea under his power, and an American public who saw this sad war as being the wrong war, at the wrong time and in the wrong place.

The quality of the audio production is excellent. The narrator's voice is clear, his pacing is varied to suit the needs of the text, and his emphasis is well-placed.

Thanks to Halberstam, Korea may no longer be "the forgotten war."

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- Doug

Great book, great reader

The Coldest Winter is one of the better war history books I've read or heard. The author, David Halberstam, certainly did his homework, and he tells a compelling story about the incredible bravery of the soldiers fighting the cold and the enemy, and dying because the stupidity of the senior command.
Edward Herrmann is a great reader and makes the listen all the more enjoyable.
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- Graybits

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-19-2007
  • Publisher: Hyperion AudioBooks