Name, Rank, and Serial Number: Exploiting Korean War POWs at Home and Abroad

Hardcover | May 15, 2014

byCharles S. Young

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Vietnam POWs came home heroes, but twenty years earlier their predecessors returned from Korea to shame and suspicion. In the Korean War (1950-1953) American prisoners were used in propaganda twice, first during the conflict, then at home. While in Chinese custody in North Korea, they werepressured to praise their treatment and criticize the war. When they came back, the Department of the Army and cooperative pundits said too many were weaklings who did not resist communist indoctrination or "brainwashing." Ex-prisoners were featured in a publicity campaign scolding the nation toraise tougher sons for the Cold War. This propaganda was based on feverish exaggerations that ignored the convoluted circumstances POWs were put in, which decisions in Washington helped create. POWs became pivotal to the Korean War after peace talks began in summer 1951. Since fighting had stalemated, both sides raced to win propaganda victories. The Chinese publicized American airmen who confessed to alleged germ warfare atrocities. American commanders worked to discredit communism byencouraging thousands of North Korean and Chinese prisoners to defect. Clandestine agents and a fraternity of anticommunist prisoners launched a violent campaign to inflate the number of POWs refusing repatriation after the war. Armistice negotiations floundered while China and North Korea demandedtheir soldiers back. United States delegates held out for what they called "voluntary repatriation," but in reality, thousands of prisoners were terrorized into renouncing their right of return. American POWs remained captive for eighteen more months of fighting over the terms of a compromisedprisoner exchange. In the United States, details of the voluntary repatriation policy were suppressed. Name, Rank, and Serial Number explains how this provides new insight into why Korea became "the forgotten war."

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Vietnam POWs came home heroes, but twenty years earlier their predecessors returned from Korea to shame and suspicion. In the Korean War (1950-1953) American prisoners were used in propaganda twice, first during the conflict, then at home. While in Chinese custody in North Korea, they werepressured to praise their treatment and critici...

Charles S. Young is Associate Professor of HIstory at Southern Arkansas University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:May 15, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195183487

ISBN - 13:9780195183481

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart I: Over There1. Limited War Sets the Stage for the POW Odyssey2. The Middle Passage: Life-Changing Horrors in the First Year of Captivity3. Andersonville East: Communist Prisoners are Pressured to Defect4. Welcome, Fellow Peasant: The Chinese Seek Converts5. POWL: Prisoners of Limited War Languish as Propaganda Becomes a Substitute for Victory6. The Failure of Chinese Indoctrination7. The United Nations Command Withholds POWsPart II: Over Here8. Home to Cheers and Jeers9. The Brainwashing Dilemma: Atrocity Reports Undermine Punishment10. Prosecutions Rile the Nation11. Target Mom: Disciplining "Misplaced Sympathy"12. Missing Action: Hollywood Films Try and Fail to Fix Captivity13. The Hidden Reason for Forgetting KoreaConclusion: Two Wars, the Visible and the CloakedNotesBibliographyIndex