This is one of the best historical war books I’ve read (and I’ve read many). The book is quite limited in scope as it covers the fighting by about 240 marines as they try to hold a hill for about a week. Why bother to hold one lousy hill for just a week? Because China’s sudden, surprising entry into the war threatened to cut off the fighting retreat of thousands of marines away from the Chosin Reservoir. So the book provides some historical background, but the book’s focus is on the marines themselves and their tenuous efforts to hold out against the Chinese’s vastly numerically-superior forces.
The conditions they were fighting under were horrendous. Temperatures as low as -20 deg F. Some guns were too frozen to fire. Some grenades were too frozen to explode. Frostbite was a constant concern. The only positive was that some wounded didn’t bleed to death because their bleeding wounds froze closed. It’s hard to imagine more inhospitable conditions.
But most important, this book focused on the individual marines doing the fighting. For some of the marines, there was a small but personal bit of background so that each of those marines could be seen as an individual rather than just a name. But many died. And many were wounded. Still, some survived. And it seemed like the reader learns the fate of nearly every one of those marines. So this book is one of the most personal war histories I’ve read (that isn’t a one-man account such as “With the Old Breed”).
Bottom line: One of the most personal war histories I’ve read.