The Dragon Strikes: China and the Korean War - June -
Patrick C. Roe. Presidio Press: Novato, CA. 2000
When General Peng Duhuai, the commander of the Chinese People's
Volunteers, addressed his troops just before they headed south across the Yalu
River he said, "In order to catch a fish you must first let
the fish taste your bait."
The Dragon Strikes is a new and ground breaking study of the ill fated
UN advance into the mountains of North Korea in the fall of 1950 which led to
the Chinese entrance into war. It is the story of the flawed intelligence
analysis, preconceived ideas, and a hugely successful Chinese deception plan
General MacArthur to launch the ill fated "Home for Christmas" offensive in late November, 1950. Good students of that apostle of deception, Sun Tzu, the Chinese were able to conceal the huge forces deployed
in Korea and persuading MacArthur they were only token forces. Then, launching their major offensive,
the Chinese were able to convince MacArthur they were in overwhelming numbers. Believing the
1st Marine Division and perhaps a significant part of X Corps might be lost and facing what they thought to
be overwhelming Chinese forces both MacArthur and the Joint Chiefs to seriously consider withdrawing entirely from Korea.
Roe has drawn extensively on Chinese sources to show how their
mistaken concerns about American intentions and mistaken American foreign policy
led the Chinese into the war. He details the decisions
made on both the Chinese and US sides and at all levels leading up to the Chinese entry, made during the initial offensives, and the results. In a straightforward objective account Roe piles fact upon fact, new material from the National Archives, the MacArthur Library, the Army's Military History Institute and
the Marine Corps Research Center to portray a higher command on both sides totally out of touch with reality.
Roe is the former historical chairman of the Chosin Few and was the
S-2 of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
at Chosin. While this begun to put the Chosin battles in perspective with the rest of the war, it does the
same for the Eighth Army?s fight along the Chongchon River.
Members of the 1st Marine Division, and attached
and supporting troops, can be triply proud. The
successful fight at Chosin decided the future course of the war. Had the division been lost, a substantial
part of the remainder of X Corps would have been lost. Without the reinforcement provided by X Corps
the Eighth Army would not have been able to halt the Chinese offensive. We would have had to withdraw from Korea. Instead the division, in fighting its way out of the trap set by 150,000 Chinese in twelve
divisions inflicted such damage on those twelve divisions they are all out of action for the next three
months reducing the available Chinese forces from thirty to eighteen divisions and preserving X Corps.
Reinforced by X Corps the 8th Army so it was able to halt the Chinese offensive and keep the war from
The Dragon Strikes puts an entirely new perspective on this crucial
stage of the Korean War. It is a must
read for any serious student of the war and for any veterans who want to know how the near disasters, at Chosin and along the Chongchon, came about.
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