Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hope in Hungnam: A Story of the Korean War by David Watts Jr.

This book is the third in a series of book reviews I'm doing about Americans at War.  Click on these hyperlinks to go to the first and second.

In honor of the anniversary of the start of the Korean War (January 25th), author David Watts Jr. has released for publication his excellent retelling of one of the greatest heroic deeds in American history.  Please enter in the drawing at the bottom of this post  for a free copy of this book.  Winners will be announced July 3rd, 2012.

In honor of the anniversary, Mr. Watts will have a free Kindle down load on January 25th.

The one hundred thousand Korean civilians who were evacuated from Hungnam on Christmas Eve of 1950, and their descendants, live on today.  As refugees, they risked all to escape Communism.  Their lives are a tribute to the men who risked everything to take them to safety; the men of the US Merchant Marine, the US Navy, the Marine Corps, the Army, and the Air Force. Most importantly, their lives are a tribute to the power of hope. 

They are the subject of what was, and remains today, the greatest naval evacuation in all of human history. (From the Epilogue)

Hope in Hungnam is the little known story about a merchant marine ship, SS Meredith Victory that transported fourteen thousand Koreans, fleeing the communists from what became North Korea, down to what became South Korea.

The Korean War, maybe because it was sandwiched in between WWII and the Vietnam War, seems to be the forgotten war.  But I believe the impact America had in that country is still being felt today.  I mean that in a positive way and David Watt’s book Hope in Hungnam offers a lot of insight into why that might be so. 

Instead of a dry recitation of a historical event, Mr. Watts chose to make this story personal by bringing the reader into the lives of some of the individuals who were impacted by the war.  It’s one thing to hear about statistics, how many Americans died and how many Koreans were displaced because of the communist take over.  It’s quite another thing to vicariously experience an American soldier’s fears and hatred towards an enemy he’s supposed to kill until that enemy has a face and becomes a fellow human.  To experience the desperation of a young Korean mother trying to save herself and her children.  A family that loses the home and land that had been in their family for generations.  Suddenly people aren’t statistics anymore.  They’re human beings whose pain and suffering you cry over.

It is inspiring to read about the selflessness of American soldiers who chose to risk their own lives to save the lives of a group of people from a place and culture remote from their own.   

Those men holding the final line, they’re risking and losing their own lives so that all these people-people they don’t even know-flee the Communists...Where do we find such men, Lunney?

I think they’re just doing what Americans do, captain.  They came over here for a fight for freedom that was not their own, for a people they don’t know-and here they bleed and die so others can live in liberty. (pg.  185)

This book made me wonder if there is a connection between the service Americans did for the Koreans during this war and the fact that the largest Christian church in the world is in South Korea.  Is there another religion in the world that asserts “Greater love hath no man than he who lays down his life for another”?  (John 15:13, Holy Bible)

It also makes me wonder if the reason we haven’t been as successful in our latest war is that-even though our soldiers are fighting for freedom, we’re not giving the people we’re fighting for a  godly belief system to replace their tyrannical one.

Something to think about.

I found Hope in Hungnam to be a quick, enjoyable and suspenseful read.  It left me inspired by man’s altruism and it should be required reading in school.  Books like this give information and insight that textbooks can never impart.  David Watts Jr. and his wife home school their children.  I think that this book should be available for purchase at every home school convention in the nation for parents who want to teach their children real history and not politically correct sound bites.

Even though Watt’s book is a work of historical fiction, most of the people are real.  In the Epilogue, he gives a follow up of what happened to key figures in this historical event. 

I also recommend watching the youtube video.  It has some moving footage of the Korean War.  Be sure to have tissues handy.

David and his family make their home in Longview, Texas 
I was given a copy of this book to review by the author.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Kindle Store for $4.99

For more information:
The Author's web site

Hope in Hungnam youtube video with footage of the Korean War

Facebook page


For more reviews of books about Americans at War:

The Navajo Code Talkers

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand


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    Go to and pick up your award.

    1. Deirdra: Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. I look forward to seeing your web site as well. Have a great day!


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.