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The Korean War rages in Southeast Asia. Every night the North Koreans hurl themselves against the outnumbered Americans who hold the Pusan Perimeter, and every night the overextended defenders are thinned even more.

Into this maelstrom lands Rick Barinelli, a teenager fresh out of Basic and is thrown immediately onto the front line. A natural leader with an innate understanding of combat, he's able to command and hold the all-important "Bowling Alley" sector. Barinelli's successes on the battlefield earn him quick promotions.

The Inchon landing relieves the pressure on Pusan and Barinelli's platoon takes the point for an American offensive. At Hungnam, they're ordered to the rear and reorganized as a reconnaissance company, while the Army's Tenth Corps and First Marine Division advance to the Chinese border.

But a quarter-million Chinese secretly infiltrate the mountain passes and surround the Americans with orders to annihilate them all. The only escape route is along a narrow road past the Chosin Reservoir through the Funchilin Pass to Hungnam and safety. The Funchilin must be held. But when Barinelli's company commander suddenly disappears, the survival of over twenty thousand men falls on him.

With fewer than two hundred men under his command, Barinelli faces the pressures of leadership in battle. More importantly, he learns of faithlessness and heroism and the inner gauntlet each soldier must pass through to survive.

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