In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation

The Americans Who Fought the Korean War

349 pages

November, 2012

ISBN: 9780814767696



Also available in




Melinda L. Pash received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee in 2008 and teaches at Fayetteville Technical Community College in Fayetteville, North Carolina. 

All books by Melinda L. Pash

Largely overshadowed by World War II’s “greatest generation” and the more vocal veterans of the Vietnam era, Korean War veterans remain relatively invisible in the narratives of both war and its aftermath. Yet, just as the beaches of Normandy and the jungles of Vietnam worked profound changes on conflict participants, the Korean Peninsula chipped away at the beliefs, physical and mental well-being, and fortitude of Americans completing wartime tours of duty there. Upon returning  home, Korean War veterans struggled with home front attitudes toward the war, faced employment and family dilemmas, and wrestled with readjustment. Not unlike other wars, Korea proved a formative and defining influence on the men and women stationed in theater, on their loved ones, and in some measure on American culture. In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation not only gives voice to those Americans who served in the “forgotten war” but chronicles the larger personal and collective consequences of waging war the American way.


  • "No one ever referred to our Korean War soldiers as part of the Greatest Generation; yet, their war began just five years after V-J Day, and more than 36,000 of them died in service to their country. These were truly forgotten combatants of a forgotten war, but Melinda Pash has done a brilliant job of recounting the experiences of these ordinary men and women who spent three years fighting and dying on a peninsula that most Americans could not locate on a world map and soon forgot."

    —Lewis H. Carlson, author of Remembered Prisoners of a Forgotten War

  • “Through prodigious research in archives and oral histories, Melinda Pash has given voice to the American veterans of the Korean War, men and women she calls the 'silent generation' of the 'forgotten war.' Her absorbing narrative and analytical account is filled with fascinating details about their growing up in the shadow of the World War Two Generation, their hasty mobilization and training, and tortuous combat against North Korean and Chinese forces, as well as the disappointing neglect most of them confronted upon their return home. In highly readable, flowing prose, Pash provides the authentic voices of the veterans as they recall and apprize their experiences, and with masterly skill, she imbeds their stories within historical scholarship on the Korean War and current understanding of the physical and emotional impact of war upon those who fight it.”

    —John Whiteclay Chambers II, editor-in-chief, The Oxford Companion to American Military History

  • "Through obviously superb scholarship and imaginative analysis Melinda Pash has managed to capture the essential essence of that largely unheralded generation that fought the Korean War."

    —Paul M. Edwards, Executive Director, The Center for the Study of the Korean War

  • "[P]rovides a wealth of source material for future historians."

    Kirkus Reviews

  • "Pash’s focus on the individuals on the ground is illuminating; she is particularly effective at highlighting the important role of women in the war, as well as the successful battlefield-driven process of racial integration."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "[Melinda Pash] presents fine descriptive analysis that's especially strong when discussing veterans' experiences during and after the war. Recommended for those with an interest in the war and its human dimensions, or for those new to the subject."

    Library Journal

  • "The book is recommended to anyone who seeks further information on Korea and the lot of the American soldier. Thanks to Pash, Korean War veterans have finally been given a long-delayed acknowledgement for their sacrifices."


  • "I highly recommend this book to those interested in the soldiers' experience and to the general reader who might wish to learn about the harsh war that their parents or grandparents experienced."

    —Peter S. Kindsvatter, American Historical Review

  • "[I]t is an excellent piece of work that tells an important story. Pash's book is a narrative history. She tells the story of the men and women who sacrificed for the greater good in Korea, while the rest of the Americans went about their everyday lives, and when the war was over quickly forgot about those who served. She tells the story of what citizenship used to mean in America."

    —Adrian R. Lewis, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

  • "This book is the best, but also about the first, comprehensive study of American veterans of the Korean War. It is deeply researched in primary sources . . . Clear and concise writing, sharp exposition, and keen sensitivity to issues of race, gender and class will make this book useful in the classroom."

    —Bruce Cummings, The Journal of American History

  • “Dr. Pash delves deeply into the background and experiences of the Americans – men and women – who served during the Korean War, a much neglected subject…[This book] is an essential read for those interested specifically in the Korean War or generally in how the nation goes to war.”

    New York Military Affairs Review