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The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat
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Product Description

November 1950, the Korean Peninsula: After General MacArthur ignores Mao¡¯s warnings and pushes his UN forces deep into North Korea, his 10,000 First Division Marines find themselves surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered by 100,000 Chinese soldiers near the Chosin Reservoir. Their only chance for survival is to fight their way south through the Toktong Pass, a narrow gorge that will need to be held open at all costs. The mission is handed to Captain William Barber and the 234 Marines of Fox Company, a courageous but undermanned unit of the First Marines. Barber and his men climb seven miles of frozen terrain to a rocky promontory overlooking the pass, where they will endure four days and five nights of nearly continuous Chinese attempts to take Fox Hill. Amid the relentless violence, three-quarters of Fox¡¯s Marines are killed, wounded, or captured. Just when it looks like the outfit will be overrun, Lt. Colonel Raymond Davis, a fearless Marine officer who is fighting south from Chosin, volunteers to lead a daring mission that cuts a hole in the Chinese lines and relieves the men of Fox. This is a fast-paced and gripping account of heroism and sacrifice in the face of impossible odds.

Customer Reviews:

  • Compelling story, not that well written
    The story of Fox Company and the Kroean War is a compelling one. I found the subject of the book extremely interesting. That being said, the book is not that well written. It bounces around and at times it is difficult to follow the story line.

    There are times when I felt as if the story was left unfinished. The comments about a prisoner of war, Robert C Mussman come to mind when he is mentioned as having been used by the Chinese Communists as a propaganda tool to get the Marines to surrender. Nothing else is mentioned about this man and what happened to him. I did an Internet search and was able to find out that he was a POW. I was even able to find a picture of him on eBay. Unfortunately I was not able to find out if he was truely the man in the woods that day as described in the book.

    I agree with another reviewers comments regardig the italicized 'thoughts' of the Marines. For the most part they did not benefit the story at all.

    The Last Stand of Fox Company is a compelling story and I have to admit I did not know much about the Korean War before reading it. In my opinion though a little bit better organization of the book would have made it an easier read....more info
  • Harrowing story... with some content holes in a 3.5 star book
    The last stand was a great, great effort. At times, the co-authors provide us with chilling details, such as chunks of palm flesh freezing to a grenade handled with a gloveless, bare hand.

    Or, the two Chinese officers parading openly down the road, mesmerizing GIs momentarily.

    But, at same time, a lot of details are missing, as other three-star reviewers note.

    1. More maps. In a book like this with the chapters written on a day-by-day basus, we should get a daily map, or, better yet, two - one for before and one for after each day's main Chinese assault.

    2. Post-battle casualties. We're told the below-zero cold helped keep many wounded from bleeding to death. But, once they got inside a warm building at the end of the withdrawal, did some bleed out after all, unable to be medically attended in time?

    Ditto on frostbite. We're given a few graphic descriptions of what happened during battle, but afterward? How many people did lose digits, if not part of limbs?

    And, a post-1950 sidebar on how well the Marines (and the Army) address, or how poorly, did they address the need for clothes and armaments that would work better in cold like this?

    3.What DID happen to the Chinese POWs Fox captured? It's hard managing prisoners in a breakout.

    4. And, of course, this wasn't Fox's "Last Stand." How long did it take for Fox to fully refit, etc?...more info
  • This is the type of book which movies are made for.
    I'm the historian for the 1st Marine Division Association. Part of my duty is to review books about the Division as they come out. This is one of the best books I have every had the priviledge to review. ...more info
  • Accurate
    This is an ideal teaching tool. Honest to a fault. It shows why Marines are men apart. The amount of work put into this book shows with every turn of the page. OOORRRRAAAAGGGGHHHH !...more info
  • The Fox Company-Braver than the 300
    Robert Drury and Tom Clavin's "The Last Stand of Fox Company" is a superb account of a forgotten battle during the Korean War, at which 246 men held off thousands of Chinese Communist troops. Fighting in thirty below zero temperature, the vastly outnumbered Americans, using every manner of weapon at hand, stood their ground until a force of 500 cut a hole in Chinese lines, releaving the surviving members of Fox Company. As in their excellent, but somewhat derivative "Halsey's Typhoon." the authors list the names of the men of Fox Company, a painstaking effort that gives life to the men who fought in what is now known as American's "forgotten war."

    At the famous battle of Thermopylae, at which the vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians, the famous "300" Spartans were, in actualty, joined by several thousand other Greek soldiers, whereas at "Fox Hill," there were no other troops besides the 246 Marine and Navy men against the Chinese hoards. We know now that these Chinese troops were originally members of the defeated Nationalist army who were used by Mao Tse Tung to fight in Korea. He didn't care how may of them died. Mao was determined for China to be a world power and for his Communist Party to be on an equal terms with Stalin's. Meanwhile, Stalin, who encouraged the invasion by the North Koreans and China's intervention, wanted to assert himself as the undisputed ruler of the Communist world. Most people don't remember, but it was Stalin's mistake of boycotting the Security Council, that led it to adopt a resolution calling for a United Nations force to repel the invasion of South Korean by North Korea. When the Soviets finally returned to veto any further support for the troops, Truman outmanoevered them by getting the General Assembly to adopt a "uniting for peace" resolution that enabled the United Nations force to fight on. The American forces were part of this United Nations effort to stop the Communist aggression and they fought under the United Nations banner.

    As Drury and Clavin so brilliantly illustrate, the American troops fought valiantly, without regard to themselves, as most of them were cut down. Any military history of America would be incomplete without this magnificent book. How America has managed to produce such anonymous heroes in time of war is one of the great success stories of the country, and it is to Drury and Clavin's great credit that they recount this story of a battle that helped turn the tide in Korea, giving a face to each of those who fought. I would suggest that after reading this outstanding book, one should visit the Korean War Memorial in Washington. It is unlike any other memorial in the nation's capital. What you will see is a battlefield, with American troops, realistic statues, in combat mode in the mist. It is positively eerie, but also appropriate, as it reminds us of the conditions in which they fought. War is indeed hell, as Sherman told us, and nowhere is this reality more accurately portrayed than in "The Last Stand at Fox Hill." ...more info
  • You won't put it down
    If you liked this book, you will also like "Colder than Hell" by Lt. Joe Owen also of the 7th Marines. This book is much more detailed. It gives you an hour by hour account of the events on Fox Hill. Other reviewers have criticized the maps, but I was able to follow the firefights and defensive maneuvers OK. There is little doubt that without the heroic stand by Fox Company and the rescue of Lt Col Ray Davis' 2/7 the 1st Mar Div would have been routed....more info
  • outstanding courage
    The history of Fox Company is a tribute to every marine that serves his country. A book that you can not put down until you have read every page....more info
  • Inspiring
    During war a plot of land, no one would want to buy, can become the focal point. When this happens these plots of land take on a life of their own, becoming part of our history. In November 1950 that plot was a hill in North Korea, overlooking the road between Yudam-mi and Hagaru-ri. Whoever controls the hill controls the road vital in the extraction of the First Marine Division from Chosin Reservoir. With the road, the Marines can extract their vehicles, wounded and dead. They will come out as a unit, badly hurt but combat capable and the extraction can be considered a victory. Without the road, over 50% of the men and all of the vehicles are lost. The division will cease to exist as a fighting force and America will have suffered a major defeat. This is the story of the 246 men who by holding this hill saved a division and prevented a major defeat.
    This is not a conventional military history. It is the story of a series of small unit battles and personal encounters giving the reader the feel of hearing the men tell the story. The authors acknowledge these men as being an integral part of writing this book and it shows. By coupling these stories with some military history, the book is both informative and personal. This makes the story more compelling, while bringing home the real price paid by the participants. This is a one-sided account with no coverage of the CCP. The Marines of Fox Company are the focus and never leave center stage.
    The book's maps fit the story, providing the right level of orientation without unnecessary details. There is a good set of photographs taken on the hill and later, that give us faces for the names. The chapters "Afterward" and "Postscript 2008" provide an excellent look at the men after the battle and later in life. My only objection is that the list of names does not include killed, wounded and the decorations they won.
    This is a timeless story of ordinary men doing extra ordinary things. Of heroics, self-sacrifice and the refusal to quit in the face of long odds. These are the stories that inspire us to be better than we are and show us that there can be a hero in each of us. The men who fought in Korea are not going to be with us much longer. In books like this, they can continue to tell their story long after they have gone to their reward. ...more info
  • Excellent Korean War read
    There are few good reads on the Korean War, this is one of them. Truely found it hard to put down....more info
  • The Most Famous Last Stand You've Never Heard Of
    The Korean War is justly termed America's "Forgotten War", but even those who haven't forgotten may not remember or may never have heard of the events chronicled in this book. If you remember the First Marine Division's dramatic breakout of Chinese encirclement in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, you are doing better than most, but this is the story of the little battle that made the bigger battle possible: the stubborn and heroic defense of a hill overlooking a narrow pass that kept the road open for the rest of the division to use in their breakout.

    Drury and Clavin have done an excellent job of putting you right there among the freezing marines of Fox Company, aided by the memories and written accounts of those who survived. It would make a Hell of a movie,...

    if Hollywood made these sorts of movies anymore.

    Defects? Not much that can fairly be laid to a prepublication copy: annoying typos and a lack of photos, presumably to be corrected upon publication, and more detailed maps would be nice.

    This is a gripping and very moving account of a forgotten battle that should no longer be forgotten. At least the Marines didn't forget; this is one of the four signature U.S. Marine Corp battles deemed worthy of recreating in their national museum....more info
  • the last stand of fox company
    An amazing account of history pasted. I gave a copy of the book to my co-worker. Her son is a Marine and being deployed to Afganastan. He is sharing the book with his battalion for inspiration and pride that all marines share....more info
  • Too Many Errors
    While the subject of this book, Fox 2/7's defense of an isolated hill in North Korea during the horrendous Chosin Reservoir campaign is worthwhile, there are way too many errors and distracting hyperbole for my taste. The feat-of-arms at Fox Hill will stand out in the USMC history books as long as there is a Marine Corps. "The Last Stand of Fox Company," however, doesn't add much to the story.

    The prose of this book seems, possibly, directed at a military/soldier/Marine enlisted man readership. Profanity is incorporated throughout the book, foul language that the authors use to describe events...NOT the quoted words of the participants. The effect is to give the work an amateurish flavor, more like a story told by young men who want to be seen as tough or cool than serious historians. I'm no prude but I don't think writers need to utilize profanity when their protagonists use enough of their own. The technique smacks of pandering to a select audience.

    Italics are used to record the Marines' thoughts - or are they the superimposed impressions of the writers? It's not clear. For example, on pages 117-118 a dead Marine with a chest wound is described: So he wasn't snoring after all. The poor guy had been breathing through his sucking chest wound. On page 170 a Marine's thoughts: What the hell they doing back there in the middle of the perimeter? All of these italics are very distracting. Did the participants really say and/or think these things or did Drury and Clavin insert them for dramatic effect? It's confusing and irritating.

    A more important problem with the story is the abundance of factual errors. The big (main) picture seems to be straight (I'm no Korean War historian) but the incorrect details drove me nuts. The Marine enlisted rank is master gunnery sergeant, not "gunnery master sergeant" (used on at least two occasions). Corsairs are described as "camouflaged" (I could accept this to a degree) and like "green hawks." I think the authors were thinking of US Army fighter planes in WWII. Corsairs in both wars were blue. On page 309, Lt. Elmo Peterson is described as having been awarded the Navy Cross. An Internet search turns up no such award for this Marine officer. I could be wrong but I don't believe Lt. Peterson was a recipient of this high award for valor. A minor detail (but no less irksome to anyone wanting a correct account) is Sgt John Henry's description as having served in the Army Air Force as a gunner in the Pacific Theater in WWII. A quick look at his photo in the book reveals a ribbon with two campaign stars for the European - not Asiatic/Pacific Theater.

    There are many more incorrect details that escape me at the moment but I think I've made my point. I wanted to learn more about the post-war lives of the men involved. Too many biographies are sketchy, as if they were glossed over thanks to a failure to pursue the full story. The rank, Private First Class, could be abbreviated to PFC after the first or second listing. This may be an exaggeration but it seemed like the book would be four or five pages shorter if all the full spellings of "Private First Class" were reduced to three letters. Marine battalions are sometimes listed as "Rifle Battalions." I never heard that one before.

    Overall, though the individual actions of two dozen or so Marines are recounted, I didn't get a sense of the intensity of the repeated Chinese assaults on Fox Hill. The feeling is that the survivors were interviewed, a basic history was cobbled together and a quick story was written and published. Martin Russ's "Breakout" does a much better job of relating the freezing, hellish conditions at Chosin in late 1950.

    ...more info