Reading about Chosin is somewhat like trying to find the beginning of a ball of string, except that in reading about Chosin the problem is not in finding where to start, it is in finding where to stop. The battles at Chosin can be view from four different perspectives. The first is the view of the individual Marine or Soldier. Then there is the view of the tactical success of the 1st Marine Division, with attached troops; how the battles were conducted. The third view, one not often considered, is the place that Chosin played in the overall course of the war, its place in history. With that in mind, I suggest the following.
From the eyeball to eyeball view:
Montross, Lynn and Nicholas Canzona. US Marine Operations in Korea. Vol. III "The Chosin Reservoir Campaign". Washington, D.C.: Historical Section, USMC, 1957 - This is the basic place to start. It is sparsely written but covers all the essential action at Chosin. It was based on Marine Corps records, extensive correspondence and many interviews at a time when events were still fresh in their minds.
Geer, Andrews The New Breed: The Story of the U. S. Marines in Korea. New York: Harper. 1952 - This is the grandaddy of all stories of Marines in Korea. As General O.P. Smith stated, The book pictures "...vividly the real-life, not fictional, Marine as he fought the bitter battles.."
Hammel, Eric. Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War. New York: Vanguard Press, 1981, This is probably the most detailed book with much information about individual Marines and small units.
Wilson, Jim. Retreat Hell:We're Just Attacking in another Direction. New York: Pocket Books. 1988. - This is an unknown gem of individual and small unit action at Chosin, often in the explicit language of the participants. (Hard to find.)
Appleman, Roy E. East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea. 1950 ,College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1987.- This is a must read for anyone who want to understand the Army participation in Chosin. Appleman is a careful and objective historian and tells this tragic story in great detail.
Russ, Martin Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950.New York: Fromm International.1999 - Russ spent many years collecting the information for this. As a combat Marine in a later phase of the war Russ is able to write this from the point of view of the individual man. As each successive book has done, Russ adds more details.
Colder Than Hell Joe Owen tells his personal experiences as a Officer In Charge of a Marine Mortar Platoon At Chosin.. One of the best and most honest historical storys written about Chosin. A Must Read.
Green Berets In Korea Fred Hayhurst's book is a story of a small unique amphibious raiding force especially raised for service during the Korean War, the first armed conflict fought under the flag of the United Nations.
March To Glory Robert Leckie- Leckie's "March to Glory" describes the First Marine Division's withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir in Korea during November and December of 1950. Many authors have described the events of this trek but none capture the pure physical torment each side went through as well as Leckie.
The tactical story:
Appleman, Roy E.. Escaping the Trap: The US Army X Corps in Northeast Korea, 1950 .College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1990. - Both Appleman and Stanton (below) give an excellent overall view of the conduct of the battle from the X Corps point of view and include the contribution of the 3rd and 7th Infantry Divisions and I ROK Corps.
Stanton, Shelby L. America's Tenth Legion: X Corps in Korea: 1950. Novato: Presidio Press, 1989
The long view:
Roe, Patrick C. The Dragon Strikes: China and the Korean War: June - December, 1950. Novato: Presidio Press. 2000. - This is the most comprehensive view yet of the part the success at Chosin played in the future course of the war with emphasis on the massive intelligence failure that led to the Chosin battles. It is unique in being able to tell the story from both the US and the Chinese point of view.
Schnabel, James F. Policy and Direction: The First Year. US Army in the Korean War. Center of Military History, U. S. Army. Washington, D.C.:, 1988 - One of the series of official U.S. Army histories this chronicles the major decisions made during the first years of the war.
Alexander, Bevin. Korea: The First War We Lost. New York:Hippocrene Books, 1986.- Still the best one-volume history of the war yet written. Alexander has done a masterful job of boiling down the record to its essential elements.