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Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,638 customer reviews

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Length: 210 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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

''If you have a soul, you will be changed forever by Blaine Harden's Escape from Camp 14 . . . Harden masterfully allows us to know Shin, not as a giant but as a man, struggling to understand what was done to him and what he was forced to do to survive. By doing so, Escape from Camp 14 stands as a searing indictment of a depraved regime and a tribute to all those who cling to their humanity in the face of evil.'' --Mitchell Zuckoff, New York Times bestselling author of Lost in Shangri-La

''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. Blaine Harden, a veteran foreign correspondent from the Washington Post, tells this story masterfully . . . The integrity of this book shines through on every page.'' --Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

''With a protagonist born into a life of backbreaking labor, cutthroat rivalries, and a nearly complete absence of human affection, Harden's book reads like a dystopian thriller. But this isn't fiction -- it's the biography of Shin Dong-hyuk.'' --Publishers Weekly

''Mr. Shin's story, at times painful to read, recounts his physical and psychological journey from a lifetime of imprisonment in a closed and unfeeling prison society to the joys and challenges of life in a free society where he can live like a human being.'' --Kongdan Oh, coauthor of The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday Life in the Hermit Kingdom

''Through the extraordinary arc of Shin's life, Harden illuminates the North Korea that exists beyond the headlines and creates a moving testament to one man's struggle to retrieve his own lost humanity.'' --Marcus Noland, coauthor of Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea

Product Details

  • File Size: 7109 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 29, 2012)
  • Publication Date: March 29, 2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GSZZ1A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,001 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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 has completed a new book on North Korea, The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, which will be published March 17, 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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
Read more ›
Comment 161 of 169 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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.
3 Comments 194 of 209 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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