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Capsule Review

Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea

In This Review

Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea
Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea
By Sheila Miyoshi Jager
Norton, 2013, 608 pp. $35.00 Purchase

Jager’s magisterial history of the Korean War incorporates all the latest research, material from newly opened archives, and lots of photographs. It covers the international context, the war on the ground, and controversies over germ warfare and prisoners of war. Although the story of atrocities committed by North Korean and Chinese troops has been told many times before, Jager gives equal attention to lesser-known atrocities perpetrated by U.S. and other allied troops and even by South Korean troops against their own people. She argues that the bitterness of the conflict helped harden Cold War antagonisms in Asia. The war was interrupted by an armistice in 1953 but has not formally ended. The second half of the book traces the history of North-South competition for the “mantle of Korean legitimacy” up to the present. After starting out in the weaker position, South Korea seems to have won the struggle, leading Jager to wonder whether North Korea’s only way out is to become an economic dependent of China -- specifically, a virtual “fourth province” of northeastern China.

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