The Origins of the Korean War

In This Review

The Origins of the Korean War

By Bruce Cumings
Princeton University Press, 1981
552 pp. $40.00

A New Left scholar deals with the American and Soviet occupations of Korea in the first two years after the end of World War II. His goal (this is the first of two volumes) is to challenge the conventional interpretation of the origins of the Korean War, and to argue that the start of the fighting in June, 1950 has to be seen as a continuation of a civil and revolutionary war that began in 1945. Although the author's thesis is not very convincing, he has ranged over an extraordinarily large amount of documentary materials, raised many interesting questions, and made an important contribution to the meager academic literature on postwar Korea.

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