When Richard Bassett returned from Korea on convalescent leave in 1953 he set down his experiences in training combat and captivity. Then he put the memoir away and tried to forget. More than twenty years later hospitalized for acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he once again faced his personal demons. Expanding the memoir to include his postwar struggles with the U.S. government and his own wounded psyche the resulting comprehensive account is published here for the first time. Bassett captures in plain language and vivid detail those days of his captivity. He describes the shock of capture and ensuing long march to Pyokdong North Korea Camp 5 on the Yellow River where many prisoners died of untreated wounds disease hunger paralyzing cold and brutal mistreatment in the bitter winter of 1950-51. He recounts Chinese attempts to mentally break down prisoners in order to exploit them for propaganda. Bassett takes the reader through typical days in a prisoner’s life discussing food clothing shelter and work; the struggle against unremitting boredom; religious social and recreational diversions; and even those moments of terror when all seemed lost. Bassett’s story is important to general audiences and scholars alike because it has no counterpart in the literature of the Korean War. And the Wind Blew Cold refutes Cold War-era propaganda that often unfairly characterizes POWs as brainwashed victims or even traitors who lost the grit that Americans expected of their brave sons. Bassett concludes his memoir with a candid discussion of the war’s aftermath his battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder harassment by a government eager to impugn the loyalty of repatriated POWs and his long struggle with the Veterans Administration to receive compensation for enduring physical and mental scars. This book will fascinate anyone interested in the Korean War era in captivity tales and in the resilience of the human spirit.
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