T.R. Fehrenbach

American historian and columnist

Theodore Reed "T. R." Fehrenbach, Jr. (January 12, 1925 – December 1, 2013) was an American historian, columnist, and the former head of the Texas Historical Commission. He graduated from Princeton University in 1947 and wrote more than twenty books, including the bestsellers Lone Star: A History of Texas and Texans and This Kind of War, about the Korean War.



This Kind of War (1963)


This Kind of War: A Study In Unpreparedness 1963. Republished in 1998 as This Kind Of War: The Classic Korean War History

  • It is the nature of peoples to see the ancient foes, and to ignore those newly arising.
  • America is rich and fat and very, very noticeable in this world. It is a forlorn hope that we should be left alone.
  • War was to be entered upon with sadness, with regret, but also with ferocity.
  • Revolution and terror are synonymous; only with the passage of time does any revolution become respectable.
  • Collective security had a fine sound, but it was still little more than a word; it would still be the United States, and the United States alone, that held the far frontier. No one else had the will or the power.
  • If war is to have any meaning at all, its purpose must be to establish control over peoples and territories, and ultimately, this can be done only as Alexander the Great did it, on the ground.
  • To continue to utilize the forces of our Air and Navy without an effective ground element cannot be decisive.
  • There had been many brave men in the ranks, but they were learning that bravery of itself has little to do with success in battle.
  • The problem is to see not what is desirable, or nice, or politically feasible, but what is necessary.
  • For the first time in recent history, American ground units had been committed during the initial days of a war; there had been no allies to hold the line while America prepared. For the first time, many Americans could understand what had happened to Britain at Dunkirk.
  • A nation that does not prepare for all the forms of war should then renounce the use of war in national policy. A people that does not prepare to fight should then be morally prepared to surrender. To fail to prepare soldiers and citizens for limited, bloody ground action, and then to engage in it, is folly verging on the criminal.
  • Americans in 1950 rediscovered something that since Hiroshima they had forgotten: you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.
  • To make a war, sometimes it is necessary that everyone guess wrong.
  • War was to be entered upon with sadness, with regret, but also with ferocity.
  • The United States will be forced to fight wars of policy during the balance of the century. This is inevitable, since the world is seething with disaffection and revolt, which, however justified and merited, plays into Communist hands, and swings the world balance ever their way.
  • History has shown very clearly that for democracy to continue, the people, and not the generals or even the executive authority, must have control over the military.
  • Because the American people have traditionally taken a warlike, but not military, attitude to battle, and because they have always coupled a certain belligerence - no American likes being pushed around - with a complete unwillingness to prepare for combat, the Korean War was difficult, perhaps the most difficult in their history.
  • Yet every democratic government is reluctant to face the fact. Reservists and citizen-soldiers stand ready, in every free nation, to stand to the colors and die in holocaust, the big war. Reservists and citizen-soldiers remain utterly reluctant to stand and die in anything less. None want to serve on the far frontiers, or to maintain lonely, dangerous vigils on the periphery of Asia. There has been every indication that mass call-ups for cold war moves may result in mass disaffection.
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