On October 15, 1950, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of UN troops in Korea, convinced President Harry Truman that the Communist forces of Kim Il-sung would be utterly defeated by Thanksgiving. The Chinese, he said with near certainty, would not intervene in the war.

As he was speaking, 300,000 Red Chinese soldiers secretly began crossing the Manchurian border.

At the same time, led by some 20,000 men of the First Marine Division, American forces moved deep into the snowy mountains of North Korea, toward the trap Mao had set for the vainglorious MacArthur along the frozen shores of the Chosin Reservoir. What followed was one of the most heroic operations in American military history, and one of the classic battles of modern times. Faced with probable annihilation, and temperatures plunging to 20 degrees below zero, the surrounded and hugely outnumbered American forces fought enemy forces with ferocity, ingenuity and nearly unimaginable courage.

Well-known author Hampton Sides has written the definitive history of this battle. On Sunday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m., Sides will speak at the Pleasanton Memorial Veterans Hall, 301 Main St., about the battle and his book On Desperate Ground.

This event is open to the public at no charge. Light refreshments will be available at a nominal charge.

The event is being cosponsored by Towne Center Books in Pleasanton, where Sides is one of their most popular authors. Owner Judy Wheeler says that she will have an ample supply of Sides’ book available for sale and signing by the author.