Restrained Response: American Novels of the Cold War and Korea, 1945-1962

By Arne Axelsson | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 6 Ground Fighting

Most stories about the ground fighting in Korea take place "on the line." "The line" was the Main Line of Resistance, the MLR for short, which during most of the war was a zone actually made up of two lines--the U.N. and the North Korean/Chinese lines--with a shady kind of no man's land in between. This area roughly corresponded to what in World Wars I and II was known as "the front." The longer the war went on, the more marked, stationary, and heavily fortified this line became. Novelists tend to favor the later phase of trench warfare and small-unit action, as limited operations mean small-group settings that simplify character and plot handling, but also the early phases of the war with its fast movements of masses of troops over a fluid and dynamic front line were drawn on for background. The Marine Corps exploits seem to be somewhat more popular as novel material than the Army contributions to the war effort. This may be a coincidence or an effect of Marine troops being involved in more spectacular fighting and/or more efficient Marine propagation of a colorful and warlike image. At any rate, the particular service connection of a narrative is a workable basis for subdividing the numerous works concerned with the ground fighting in Korea.


THE MARINE MODE

Looking at the Marine Corps performance in Korea for explanations of its slight inspirational edge, one is struck by one protracted

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