Review: The Frozen Hours
The Frozen Hours by Jeff Shaara
Ballantine Books | May 23, 2017 | 9780345549228
June 1950. The North Korean army invades South Korea, intent on uniting the country under Communist rule. In response, the United States mobilizes a force to defend the overmatched South Korean troops, and together they drive the North Koreans back to their border with China.
Everything I knew about the Korean War came from M.A.S.H before reading this book. This book really put that knowledge into perspective. While M.A.S.H did show some of the drama and brutality of what the soldiers witnessed and partook in, it did so in a very sanitized environment. The use of these first-hand accounts to drive the story bring it to light and make it all the more real. Jeff Shaara is truly a master of his craft. This book has fueled my desire to learn more about the time surrounding the Korean War.
The story takes three very distinct and different perspectives: Oliver P. Smith, the commanding general of the American 1st Marine Division, Marine Private Pete Riley, and the Chinese commander, Sung Shi-Lun. These differing takes shows how this series of movements and battles over about a four-month time span affects the groups in diverse ways. They are called the “Frozen Chosin” because it was a brutal winter near and around the Chosin Reservoir. It was so cold that their water and rations would freeze solid. Many of the soldiers would lose extremities to frost bite.
Shaara has an easy writing style that invites you to learn about and then relate to the characters in the story. He intertwines their back stories in such a way that it is seamless. It did take a bit for the story to get really going but once it did I did not want to put it down. I am a big fan of Shaara’s books. It began with he and his father’s Civil War series and now The Frozen Hours is just another excellent addition to his catalog.