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The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and The Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way to Freedom [Kindle Edition]

Blaine Harden
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $11.99
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

From the New York Times bestselling author of Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden tells the riveting story of Kim Il Sung's rise to power, and the brave North Korean fighter pilot who escaped the prison state and delivered the first MiG-15 into American hands

In The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, New York Times bestselling author Blaine Harden tells the riveting 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 was playing a high-risk game of deception—and escape.

As Kim ascended from Soviet puppet to godlike ruler, No Kum Sok noisily pretended to love his Great Leader. That is, until he swiped a Soviet MiG-15 and delivered it to the Americans, not knowing they were offering a $100,000 bounty for the warplane (the equivalent of nearly one million
dollars today). The theft—just weeks after the Korean War ended in July 1953—electrified the world and incited Kim’s bloody vengeance.

During the Korean War the United States brutally carpet bombed the North, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and giving the Kim dynasty, as Harden reveals, the fact-based narrative it would use to this day to sell paranoia and hatred of Americans.

Drawing on documents from Chinese and Russian archives about the role of Mao and Stalin in Kim’s shadowy rise, as well as from neverbefore- released U.S. intelligence and interrogation files, Harden gives us a heart-pounding escape adventure and an entirely new way to understand the world’s longest-lasting totalitarian state.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 14002 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (March 17, 2015)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LFZ8R7C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,869 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope a Movie Is in the Works! March 27, 2015
Format:Kindle Edition
Ken Rowe (No Kum Sok) has been a good friend since 1964. We sat next to each other as engineers, and I have read his memoir. A MIG-15 to Freedom. Recently declassified US Intelligence records have added much to everything previously published.

What a great idea to weave the two stories of good (Ken) and evil (Kim II Sung). Mr. Harden does a masterful job making an excitingly good read and a well documented History Lesson that is still very relevant today. This is a must read for anyone who doesn't understand why North Korea is so out of step with the World today.

If you have already read all the WWII and Cold War stories of the LaCarre genre, this should book is your next step into the mid-20 Century intrigue. ke
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched and Informative April 14, 2015
By tdw
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I learned a lot about North Korea and its leadership. Very informative and apparently well researched. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a better understanding of North Korea.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audible Audio Edition
I know little about the Korean War and this book tells all about that and how Kim Il Sung came to power and kept it and also about an amazing fighter pilot named No Kum Sok who pretended to be a great patriot but defected with a MIG plane as soon as he saw the opportunity.

The story of Kim Il Sung's legacy is well known but I was not aware of the United States carpet bombing of civilians in cities during the war that caused such hatred and fear against Americans. That is why whenever the Great Leader was in trouble he could put the fear of America into his people and they would fall in line. Perhaps 30 percent of the civilian population died in that conflict. It's hard to know exact figures because there is so much secrecy in North Korea to this day. Even the new leader is no better than his grandfather and according to some he is worse.

Not all of North Koreans hated America. No Kum Sok's family did not believe the propaganda put out by the Great Leader's government. He wanted to get to America any way possible. His best bet was to become a fighter pilot and fly to South Korea. The book really grabs you when his story is told. For years he pretended to be one of the most patriotic men in North Korea. What happens to him after he escapes does not paint a rosy picture of America although No Kum Sok would not do anything differently to get here.

This story resonates through me on why diversity is what makes the United States great. This man came to America knowing very little English, but learned it, got a college education and married and raised a family. He is America in my mind and I salute him and his accomplishments.

A wonderful book on North Korean history and the heroic man who came to America and fulfilled the American dream.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Background for Uderstanding March 30, 2015
By Reader
Format:Kindle Edition
I received this from Goodreads to read and review.

This is an excellent overview of North Korea. The book traces the life of Kim Il Sung, the first leader of the North Korea we know today. One thing the author does highlight is the massive bombing the United States did of the country during the war, leaving the country flattened and ripe to be taken over by Kim Il Sung. This is why it also so easy to turn the country people against the US and to blame the US for everything bad that happens to them. I found the description of what happened quite interesting and informative.

The other part of this book is the story of No Kum Sok, who fooled the regime until he stole a Soviet MiG 15, delivering it to the Americans just before the end of the war. This only served to make Kim angrier while becoming THE story in the day’s world. I can only begin to imagine the courage of this man.

In this book, the author has given the reader a unique perspective and look at this hermit country, something that is vital to understanding and appreciating the world today. He has definitely done his research completely and accurately. I found it fascinating that these two different but related stories, almost a contrast in some respects, were intertwined in this book. It definitely shows the understanding of the country and its god-like leaders and creativity of the author. I think this book is a definite must-read for any student of today’s geopolitical landscape. It will provide new ideas and refreshing ways to look at things.
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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.

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