The Frozen Chosen

Published on
August 12, 2016
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
978- 1-4728-1436-4
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Book cover

Originally envisioned as a movie by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver, The Frozen Chosen has been released as a book about the First Marine Division and the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. This new book relies heavily on a series of interviews conducted by Cleaver with survivors of the battle resulting from a 1989 reunion of “The Frozen Chosen”. The release online by the US Marine Corps Historical division of the Korean War Project, along with recently released from Korea, Russia, and China finally spurred Thomas McKelvey Cleaver to finish this book.

Thomas McKelvey Cleaver served with the US Navy in Vietnam and has spent thirty years in Hollywood as a screen writer for television and the movie industry. Horror fans will know him as the author for the 1989 cult classic by producer Roger Corman of “The Terror Within” starring George Kennedy, Andrew Stevens, Starr Andreeff, and Terri Treas. Thomas McKelvey Cleaver has also been a published writer for forty years and is known for Fabled Fifteen: The Pacific War Saga of Carrier Air Group 15, The Bridgebusters: The True Story of the Catch-22 Bomb Group, Aces of the 78th Fighter Group (Aircraft of the Aces 115), F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat Aces of VF-2 (Aircraft of the Aces 125), and an ebook, Air Combat Annals.

The Chosin Reservoir Campaign was one of the most savage battles in American history and is considered by many to the “The Finest Hour” of the United States Marine Corps. Nearly 15,000 US Soldiers and Marines were trapped near the Chosin Reservoir by vastly numerically superior Chinese forces. This is the story of the 1st Marine Division leading the escape to freedom, along with nearly 100,000 civilians, during one of the worst blizzards of the century. Thomas McKelvey Cleaver tells their story using first person interviews from the 1st Marine Division surviving veterans mixing in reports from the Chinese PVA (People’s Volunteer Army). The divisive politics of the day between President Truman and General MacArthur are also covered extensively, although perhaps one sided. Thomas McKelvey Cleaver is clearly not a fan of the conservative General MacArthur. I counted six maps dispersed amongst the 296 pages of text. The center section features 53 captioned black and white photographs on 28 additional pages.

The Chapters include:

  • List of Maps
  • List of Illustrations
  • Prologue by Lawrence B. Wilkerson Col. USA (Ret)
  • Introduction
  • Brother's Keeper
  • Background to War in the Land of The Morning Calm
  • The Wages of Hubris
  • The Fatal Decision
  • First Contact
  • Where is the Enemy?
  • The Chinese Attack
  • Holding On
  • Breakout
  • "Retreat, Hell, We're Just Attacking in a New Direction!”
  • Evacuation
  • Aftermath
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Despite the author not being a fan of General MacArthur, the focus in this book is on the heroism of the 1st Marine Division during the decisive battle of the Korean War. I read this book over four evenings and found it quite intriguing and has inspired me to do additional study on the Korean War. My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this excellent book.

Highly recommended!


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