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Institute of Land Warfare >> AUSA Book Program >> Book Reviews >> White Tigers: My Secret War in Korea Email this... Email    Print this Print

White Tigers: My Secret War in Korea

By: Ben S. Malcolm USA (Ret.) with Ron Martz.

Reviewed By: Roger Cirillo

Legends abound around great units with great names: the Wolfhounds, Merrill’s Marauders, the Screaming Eagles - to these another should be added, “The White Tigers.” Their real designation was less inspiring, “the 8240th Army Unit.” In the days before Special Operations became well known, numbers sufficed to cover a unit’s mission. This unit had a “Guerrilla Division” which helped run Korean partisan operations deep in North Korea, their base being on islands near the Yalu River on the Chinese-Korean border.

Ben Malcolm was a young officer taking part in these operations, which remained classified for more than 40 years. In telling the story, Malcolm has given not just a great yarn, but has opened a key piece of Special Operations history previously unknown to but a handful of participants. By war’s end, more than 22,000 partisans operated behind enemy lines, some 4,000 of whom escaped North Korea, a few hundred of whom live in the United States. Originally coded “Donkeys” by the Americans, the Koreans soon adopted the term “white tiger,” which gives Malcolm’s story its name.

The new paperback edition of this book is an update of the original 1996 edition brought out by Brassey’s and titled an AUSA book. For Special Forces personnel and those interested in a tale of heroism, initiative, and unconventional war, this book is a must. With the United States currently fighting a global war against terror, its lessons are many and the story adds not just a chapter to history, but lessons for the future.

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