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on January 30, 2014
What has happened and is happening in North Korea is far beyond anything we can imagine in our darkest thoughts. This book and Shin's narrative gives the reader a first hand account of the horrors taking place there.
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on November 19, 2013
Harden reports the inhumane conditions and treatments of Korean labor camps. That they're happening right now, makes them even more horrifying. This isn't a book for the faint of heart, but it's a story we need to be aware of.
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on March 29, 2014
Almost impossible to imagine this for most Americans. To think such brutality could still exist in the world. I studied the two Koreas for many years and had heard of many of the horrors, yet this book still was shocking.
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on January 11, 2014
i read this right after reading "nothing to envy; ordinary lives in north korea" by barbara demick, having found that pretty riveting, too, and knowing almost nothing about north korean life outside of what we see in the news. "escape..." comes from a completely new perspective from demick's book in that the subject was "born into" the prison camps where life was many times worse than the hellish life outside those fences. truly fascinating and easy to read, but very disturbing as well. blaine harden narrates eloquently without sensationalism the madness that exists in the dark land of north korea. his description of the slow evolution in the main character's constitution, from "born child slave" to "free man", is one of the best i've encountered.
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on March 29, 2014
North Korea is a topic I find fascinating. I read this book from cover to cover in one sitting. Easy to read. Gives great insight to the lives of the unfortunate people in the work camps of the Kim Jong-Un (and predecessors). It's also interesting to learn what life is like once a North Korean escapes into China.
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on May 10, 2013
I had no idea of the atrocities in the North Korea's concentration camps. The innocents of the character and his enduring hardship were palpable. The hardship of acclimating into a normal society was almost as difficult as being in the camp; without the abuse. Certainly a fascinating, and informative read, I really liked this book.
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on January 22, 2014
Very easy read. The content is very candid and honest. The subject really paints a harsh picture of sub-human life in the North Korean camp. But even in the grim reality he faces day-to-day, he does experience moments of beauty and hope.
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on January 28, 2013
This guy grew up in a truly appalling environment that belongs in a Conan movie or something rather than in the 21st century.

If he didn't escape it would be too depressing but as it is, it is a great unputdownable yarn.

If you like prison stories, survival against the odds and escape stories there will be something here for you.
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on March 2, 2013
This is one of the saddest and most inspiring books I've read in a long time. It's hard to fathom life in those camps, but this book is written really well. As it happens, I bought it right when Google released their much more detailed maps of North Korea, so It's possible to follow along and even see some of the exact places described in the book. Highly recommended.
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on April 25, 2013
Reading about babies and children being beaten to death, families being torn apart, children informing on parents, children being severely abused for the alleged "sins" of their parents, and people being tortured and executed is not exactly my idea of an enjoyable time. However, all of these things are happening in North Korea and are vividly illustrated in "Escape from Camp 14". And while I find the details of Shin Dong-hyuk's life in a North Korean prison camp absolutely sickening and horrifying, this is still a very good book. As others have stated, once you start reading it, you really can't put it down for long.

The fact that Shin escaped is incredible. Undoubtedly it is a very rare--and possibly singular--occurrence. But I'm glad he did make it out, if for no other reason than to tell his story. North Korea does an excellent job at keeping these horrors hidden from the world. And while I don't know if there is anything I can personally do to try and fight the human rights abuses currently happening there, I do believe that simply reading Shin's experiences is a step in the right direction. I truly feel for this man...he has been through absolute hell and somehow survived. I am a very sensitive person and get upset by details such as those contained in this book. However, despite that, I still felt compelled to keep reading in order to educate myself as to what is happening in this area of the world. I strongly recommend that many others do the same. While this is definitely a wrenching book, it is also a very absorbing and important book too. Read it.
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