The Pueblo Incident: A Spy Ship and the Failure of American Foreign Policy
Mitchell B. Lerner. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2002. 408 pp. Map. Photos. Index. $34.95 ($31.45).
Reviewed by Commander Richard A. Mobley, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The story of North Korea's seizure of the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) is one that risks being forgotten. North Korean patrol boats surrounded, fired on, and boarded the intelligence-collection ship and forced the Pueblo into Wonsan, North Korea, on 23 January 1968. The captors brutally treated the surviving 82 crewmen and publicly threatened to try them for espionage. Preparing for the worst, the United States surged hundreds of aircraft to the Far East and moved three carrier battle groups into the Sea of Japan. Seeking to keep the crew alive, avoid another war in Asia, and retain South Korean troops in Vietnam, Washington pursued a convoluted and painful diplomatic solution. Leaving Panmunjom on 23 December 1968, the crew returned home to rest, debriefings, and, for some, the probability of general courts-martial.