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The Hidden History of the Korean War: New Edition

The revival of a classic work of journalism which exposes the gap between the official story and reality

By  and introduction by Tim Beal and Gregory Elich

At the height of the McCarthy era and the inception of the Cold War, the great journalist I.F. Stone released The Hidden History of the Korean War, a courageous work of investigative journalism that demolished the official story about America’s so-called “forgotten war.” As the war spiraled to its conclusion, Stone closely analyzed openly available U.S. intelligence narratives on the war’s official start, and the actions of key players like John Foster Dulles, General Douglas MacArthur, and Chiang Kai-shek. The result of his investigations was a controversial book that raised questions about the origin of the war, showed that the U.S. government had manipulated the United Nations, and gave evidence that the U.S. military and South Korean oligarchy dragged out the war by sabotaging peace talks. Stone made a strong case that there were those in the U.S. government and military who saw instability in the region as in the U.S. national interest.

Today, proxy wars are openly practiced for the sake of securing economic dominance — but when it came to news coverage of the Korean War, the story was purposefully buried at the very instant the war set the stage for relations with East Asia. When it was first published in 1952, The Hidden History of the Korean War met with a near-total press blackout and boycott—never receiving a single rebuttal, or answer, from official U.S. sources. First circulated during the long years of the Korean War, and then republished during the Vietnam War, much of what Stone wrote in The Hidden History of the Korean War was further validated forty years after its publication, when declassified documents from U.S., Soviet and Chinese archives illuminated this controversial period in history. With a new introduction by Tim Beal and Gregory Elich, 70 years after its initial publication The Hidden History of the Korean War remains a powerful dissemination of the ‘hidden history’ behind the dominant historical narrative. As we revisit I.F. Stone today, it further dawns on us that the tangled sequence of events leading to the Korean War were obfuscated in plain sight in order to prep the ground for a never-ending Cold War which aims to secure enduring American hegemony in East Asia, above all else.

What people say about The Hidden History of the Korean War

I.F. Stone’s Hidden History of the Korean War is investigative journalism at its best.  While the war was raging, Stone drew on official government documents as well as newspaper reports to produce a devastating critique of US pronouncements about the origins and aims of the war. But the book is of more than historical importance. Stone’s investigation into US policy makers’ machinations also offers insights that help explain current US policy towards Korea. As a bonus, this edition includes a valuable new introduction by two Korea scholars who discuss Stone’s journalism and the continuing geopolitical ramifications of the Korean War. — MARTIN HART-LANDSBERG, author of Korea: Division, Reunification and US Foreign Policy

… highly explosive arguments and observations.—PARK SANG-SEEK, diplomat (1973)

This book-length feat of journalism… is a testament to Stone’s search for a way to strengthen his readers to think for themselves, rather than be overwhelmed by official stories and war propaganda.—JAY HAUBEN, Columbia University

Isidor Feinstein Stone (1907–1989), better known as I.F. Stone or Izzy Stone, published more than a dozen books and was considered one of the most influential investigative journalists of the postwar period. He was best known for his self-published journal, I.F. Stone’s Weekly, which in 1999 was ranked second in a poll of his fellow journalists of “The Top 100 Works of Journalism in the United States in the 20th Century.” He started the weekly after working at the New York Post, The Nation (as editor from 1940 to 1946), and the newspaper PM, covering the New Deal, McCarthyism, the birth of Israel, and the Vietnam War. Tim Beal is a retired New Zealand academic with a special interest in U.S. imperialism mainly, but not exclusively, in respect of Asia. He first read Izzy Stone’s book as an undergraduate at Edinburgh University in 1970. Enthused, he wrote a long undergraduate essay based on it. Though not well-received at the time, the process initiated a journey of discovery that has resulted in two books and numerous articles on Korea and imperialism. Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute board member and also on the board of directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is a contributor to the collection, Sanctions as War: Anti-Imperialist Perspectives on American Geo-Economic Strategy.

May 22, 2023 - Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Original version:

    Fletcher Prouty , Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President John F. Kennedy, states in one of his youtube video’s that at the end of WW11, he was standing on a wharf ( somewhere in Europe ) and was watching a ship being loaded with all sorts of armaments i.e tanks, cannons, rifles etc. He asked the loading master were they all going back to the States? The reply astounded him, No, half of that cargo is going to Hanoi and the other to S.Korea! NB This was in 1945!


    Comment by eddieb | May 23, 2023 | Reply

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