Karl Gallagher (selenite) wrote,
Karl Gallagher
selenite

Great Book, Lousy eBook

I first found T. R. Fehrenbach's This Kind of War when it was discarded from my dorm's library. I recently bought a Kindle copy to save having to carry around the heavy hardcover. It's a brilliant book, covering the Korean War from the viewpoint of American troops being shoved into a war their government hadn't prepared them for. I've heard an excerpt is mandatory reading for Army Generals. It covers war's horrors in depth--incompetent leaders, cowardly troops, atrocities, friendly fire, and the deaths of many, many civilians caught between the army. It also shows how ordinary men rose to become heroes and other learned to do their jobs well.

I recommend it to everyone with an interest in war.

What I can't recommend is the eBook edition I linked to. "Open Road Media" did the conversion. They butchered the book.

It's clear the original book was scanned, OCRed, then spell-checked. Numerous words had r/f or rn/m confusions. The spell-check cleaned that up for most of the text, well enough that I could follow it. Having read the book before I could usually guess what the proper word should be. A new reader who didn't know that units in the field would lay wires to have telephone communication with each other would be very confused when the "wife" was cut. The many Korean and Chinese names were also messed up. The common name "Il" was replaced by "II" throughout. Non-English words were frequently botched, for example "Wehrmacht" becoming "Wehnnact."

Captions and pull-quotes were mixed in with the main text, sometimes inserted directly in the middle of a sentence.

Worst for understanding the material was the total omission of the book's graphics. Fehrenbach provided over two dozen maps. They were crucial to understanding the tactical situations where units were outflanked and moving relative to each other. He also included scores of photographs, including some originally distributed by Communist news agencies, vividly showing the impacts of what he described.

I particularly miss the last picture in the book, one of the most poignant glimpses of war's cost I've seen:
This Kind of War
Tags: books, war
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