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I Remember Korea

by Linda Granfield

I Remember Korea: Veterans Tell Their Stories of the Korean War, by award-winning author Linda Granfield, has much to recommend it. The text is timely, given both the renewed U.S.-North Korean tension and the increasing age of the veterans of the conflict, also known as the “forgotten war.” Granfield’s book – an accessible collection of personal narratives accompanied by a brief historical introduction, a chronology, and a glossary – seeks to remedy this collective memory lapse. The stories range from short anecdotes to more developed reminiscences; none are more than a few pages. Many are moving, some are surprisingly funny, and all offer insight into life at war from an insider’s perspective. Several recollections focus on the plight of the Korean people, particularly the women and children, driving home for young adults the human cost of military and political actions. 

Cover-to-cover readers will, however, note some repetition, in part because of the brevity of the contributions, and while tedium and repetition were no doubt the reality of a soldier’s life, they can be problematic for younger readers in particular. Furthermore, as a Canadian reader, I wanted more information about Canada’s specific role and how the country became involved. Granfield gives an overview of the war’s genesis, but lumps Canada in with the other UN forces that contributed, so that readers without background information may be unclear about Canada’s part in this war. Consequently, the book will be best used as a supplement to textbooks or military histories. Some of the content is graphic, and the tone and subject matter make this book suitable for readers 13 and older.