War has long been the dominion of tyrants and megalomaniacs. And, like love, so too has it been fodder for writers. Both of these subjects have been the provenance of a host of poesy as old as the written word - one need only pick up The Iliad
as proof. In his novel, The Coldest Night
, Robert Olmstead marries the two topics while also pitting them against each other. The story is set in the seemingly simple time of 1950s America on the eve of the Korean War, but, as love and war are never simple, the couple in Olmstead's novel struggle to survive.
Henry Childs, the son of a lower-class single mother, meets and falls in love with Mercy, the daughter of a judge "known for the empery of his opinion... and wealth." It's a frowned-upon relationship that crosses social boundaries, and after Mercy graduates high school, Henry is told by the judge, "it's over now......
Beyond the Book
Korea suffered under a brutal Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945. After Japan's defeat in World War II, Korea was divided along the 38th Parallel, with South Korea falling under the jurisdiction of the United States, and North Korea under the Soviet Union. Reunification was the stated ultimate goal, but when North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950, the United Nations created an army to repel the invaders with the US military representing 88% of the 340,000 UN troops. According to the Naval History and Heritage website:
Throughout the summer of 1950, the U.S. and the other involved United Nations' states scrambled to contain North Korea's fast-moving army, assemble the forces necessary to defeat it and simultaneously begin to respond to what...