Department of Defense photo

U.S. Marines move forward after effective close-air support flushes out the enemy from their hillside entrenchments in North Korea.

Mattis, who kept a personal collection of 7,000 books before retiring as a four-star general, attributes his success on the battlefield to reading.

“We have been fighting on this planet for 5000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. Winging it and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the
moral dictates and the cost of incompetence in our profession,” he wrote in a 2003 email.

And so, when he was asked at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting last year what the U.S. military could do to lessen the likelihood of a conflict on the Korean peninsula, Mattis pointed to Fehrenbach’s book.

“Let me talk about Korea for a minute because it’s on all of our minds,” Mattis said in the wake of reports that North Korea had tested ahydrogen bomb.

“There’s a reason that I recommend T.R. Fehrenbach’s book. That we all pull it out and read it one more time,” Mattis added saying that the current U.S. response to North Korea was a “diplomatically-led, economic sanction buttressed effort.”

“Now, what does the future hold, neither you nor I can say, so there is one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is you have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ if needed,” he said.

Mattis recommended troops read the 55-year-old title, as he did, in order to prepare for a potential conflict along the 38th parallel.

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