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Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom inthe West [Kindle Edition]

Blaine Harden
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,240 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $7.01 (47%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped

 


North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.

 

In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother.

 

The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.

 

Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.




Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Blaine Harden's chronicle of Shin Dong-hyuk's life in a North Korean prison camp and his eventual escape is a slim, searing, humble book—as close to perfect as these volumes of anguished testimony can be. — Blaine Harden

Review

"'This is a story unlike any other... More so than any other book on North Korea, including my own, Escape from Camp 14 exposes the cruelty that is the underpinning of Kim Jong Il's regime... The integrity of this book shines through on every page' Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea"

Product Details

  • File Size: 824 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670023329
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 29, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GSZZ1A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,762 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
263 of 271 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply horrifying. March 22, 2012
By NickTr
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Once you've started this book, it's very difficult to put down.

How this man survived the brutality of a 'Total Control' North Korean prison camp is impossible to conceive. From watching classmates being beaten to death and his mother and brother being executed, to being tortured over hot coals at the age of 13 and suffering near starvation for the first 24 years of his life, to the soul-destroying work ethic and unparalleled cruelty of the prison guards, how Shin Dong-hyuk is still alive, let alone now living happily in America, is breathtaking. His story is heartbreaking from the very beginning, yet his ability to keep on going in the face of absolute punishment will inspire all who read about it. The worst day you've ever had, will likely pale in comparison to a normal day in the life of this guy.

Blaine Harden has done a great job of presenting the details, and obviously cultivated a strong relationship with Shin. The book is short but there's more than enough in there for you to appreciate the gravity of the situation in North Korea, and its relationship with both South Korea and China.

Worth every penny.
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136 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves to be read March 29, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Shin Dong-Hyuk was born in Camp 14, a North Korean political prison/labour camp, a camp from which there is no release for its inmates, a camp with a strict and harsh regime,where there is little food, and where the work often results in early death. No one has escaped from Camp 14 or any other such camp, that is until Shin succeeded in early 2005, eventually making his way via China and South Korea to the US.

Escape From Camp 14 is his story as told to Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden. It details the inhuman existence that is life within Camp 14, where prisoners are pressured to inform on each other including their own family, where punishments are harsh and handed out at the whim of their superiors be they prison guards or fellow prisoners designated as supervisors. Life is cheap within Camp 14, beatings can be so extreme they result in death, there are regular public executions and possibly much more regular private executions. Anyone caught trying to escape is executed, and members of their family face reprisals. Born into such an existence Shen knew no other way of life, he knew nothing of the world outside of the camp, that is until he met a new inmate who gradually enlightened him, and fuelled his desire for escape.

This is an easy read in that the prose is fluent and very accessible, but it if far from an easy read when considering its content, the descriptions of life in Camp 14 do not make for comfortable reading. Harden eases the readers progress through Shin's harrowing account by regularly interspersing it with facts about life in North Korea, Korea's history and its relations with the rest of the world.

This is a story that deserves to be told, and that needs to be read.
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182 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Extraordinary Book March 24, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Many excellent books will no doubt be published this year. None will be more disturbing. None will be more unique. There is no one on earth like Shin Dong-Hyuk.

Shin was born in a North Korean labor camp in 1982. His "crime," as he learned many years later, was that two of his uncles defected from North Korea to South Korea (as tens of thousands of others did)--in 1951. He is the only known person born in a North Korean labor camp to escape and defect.

His treatment was horrifying--and routine. In camp he was starved and beaten all the time--as was every other prisoner. His earliest memory is of an execution (everyone in the camp, including children, had to watch them). As a punishment when he broke a sewing machine, a guard cut off one of his fingers.

No matter what I write, you cannot understand the brutality of Camp 14 unless you read this book. Blaine Harden's cold, unsparing prose tells Shin's story in a way that anyone can read it, though no one will quite believe it (I knew Blaine for years while he worked at The Washington Post. I don't believe I'm influenced in the least by my admiration for him in what I'm writing--the shock of the book is too great for that).

There are no answers to the questions raised by Escape from Camp 14. The State Department estimates that 200,000 people live in such camps (you can see them on Google Earth), and most live out their short lives there since they are worked unsparingly and given little food and few clothes. What should be done about it? I don't know. But those who read this amazing book will know a few things about the North Korean regime that others cannot.
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Be Human April 1, 2012
By mike d.
Format:Hardcover
When I heard about Shin's account on NPR, I rushed to the local bookstore to get a copy for myself. Simply the most compelling story I have ever read. I am not well versed enough in the politics of the region or North Korea to provide a qualified review. But I am human.

This book has deeply affected me. I view food differently now. It has even affected my relationships.

I must issue a warning however. The events in this narrative are truly disturbing. It has been less than 24 hours since I finished reading Escape from Camp 14 and I can't stop thinking about Shin.

Fortunately, Blaine Harden provides a detailed bibliography for the interested reader which I definitely plan to consult.

Truly, North Korea is the world's largest prison and Shin's account deserves to be heard. The Kim family in North Korea must and will answer for the crimes against Shin and the thousands of others who have suffered at their hands. To settle for anything less is simply not human.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My best summer read
My best summer read. I passed this on to my daughter and she in turn has it circulating among her friends. Captivating. A must read
Published 6 hours ago by susan bailey
3.0 out of 5 stars Just an OK read
Book started OK, but then it has too much extraneous material which it could do without and let it be replaced with more details on the camps if possible.
Published 8 hours ago by Vikram Shetty
5.0 out of 5 stars Wakeup call for The world about N Korea
An awakening! I didnt know about the situation in N Korea. If everyone read this book maybe we could bring about change and save those poor prisoners!
Published 1 day ago by D. Sindell
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Recommended Unless You Are A Bit Masochistic
This is the story of Shin In Guen as told by him to those who attended to and cared for him after his escape from North Korea’s Camp 17 - which is a camp of 300 plus square miles... Read more
Published 3 days ago by James Barton Phelps
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and well written
I liked the way the author intermingled the narrative of Shin's life in the camp with details of the culture and politics in North Korea. Read more
Published 4 days ago by MamaDooskie
5.0 out of 5 stars How are there any one star reviews? This is a must read for those...
Just finished this book and I HIGHLY recommend it. Blaine Harden did an excellent job giving details into Shin's life before the escape, during, and after it. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Jodie Navarre
5.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of loose ends
Unlike fiction, the narrative of real life does not usually tie up in pretty packages at any point along the journey. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Stephen McKenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great, informative read.
Published 8 days ago by Lea Midkiff
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely astonishing !!
Unbelievable life that Shin describes.
Published 8 days ago by Stuart T
5.0 out of 5 stars wow
This is a must read. There are no other words to say from me. I'm just completely blown away. I beg everyone reading these reviews to read it.
Published 8 days ago by Andre Garcia
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More About the Author

Blaine Harden is an author and journalist whose most recent book is Escape From Camp 14, a New York Times and international bestseller that has been translated into 27 languages. It's the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only person born and raised in a North Korean prison camp to escape to the West. Escape from Camp 14 won the 2012 Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique, a French literary award, was a nonfiction finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was featured on 60 Minutes.

Blaine's has completed a new book on North Korea, The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, which will be published in April, 2015. It tells the story of how Kim Il Sung grabbed power and plunged his country into war against the United States while the youngest fighter pilot in his air force played a high-risk game of deception--and escape.

Blaine contributes to the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, PBS Frontline and The Economist. A longtime foreign correspondent, he worked for The Washington Post in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as in New York and Seattle. He was also a roving national reporter for The New York Times and writer for the Times Magazine.

Blaine is also the author of A River Lost. It's about well-intentioned Americans (including the author's father) who dammed and degraded the West's greatest river, the Columbia. The New York Times called it a "hard-nosed, tough-minded, clear-eyed dispatch on the sort of contentious subject that is almost always distorted by ideology or obscured by a fog of sentiment." An updated and revised edition of A River Lost was published in 2012 to coincide with a PBS American Experience program about Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia River.

Blaine's first book, Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent, was described by The Independent (London) as the "best contemporary book on Africa."

Blaine lives in Seattle with his wife Jessica and their two children, Lucinda and Arno.

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