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The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters Paperback – December 20, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Provocative... A fascinating analysis." —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"[A] scary... close reading of domestic propaganda [that] goes a long way toward explaining the erratic behavior and seemingly bizarre thought processes of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il." —The Wall Street Journal
"Myers' book is worth buying and reading." —The Quarterly Review
"The definitive book on the subject." —The Atlantic
"There are few books that can give the world a peek into the Hermit Kingdom.The Cleanest Race provides a reason to care about how those in North Korea see themselves and the West. It is possibly the best addition to that small library of books on North Korean ideology."
—Andrei Lankov, Far Eastern Economic Review
"Myers renders great service to the global foreign policy establishment with his lucid and well documented profile of the North Korean polity. If only it were made mandatory reading for all the stakeholder leaders, particularly the American establishment, who feel compelled to deal politically with North Korea. Maybe then, Myers' wisdom might lead them to adopt the only possibly policy toward North Korea that will work: that of 'benign neglect.'"
—Mike Gravel, US Senate 1969-1981
"In his new survey of North Korean propaganda, The Cleanest Race, B.R. Myers insists that the ongoing support of the North Korean public for the regime doesn't reflect any great faith in communism. Instead, he argues, it is rooted in a kind of paranoid racial nationalism adapted from the Japanese fascism that flourished before World War II.... Myers feels that the racialism at the heart of the regime's ideology will sustain it even as it fails to provide the prosperity it promises."
—Laura Miller, Salon.com
"The text offers a clear picture of the peculiar worldview of this profoundly inward-facing country, its character and continuous subtle alterations, and its under-appreciated ramifications in world affairs." —Reference & Research Book News
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Myers objective is, by explaining North Korea in the roots of its modern past, to try to make some form recommendations as to how the world community can deal with this strange and blinkered land. His ultimate conclusion is, unfortunately, rather gloomy, arguing essentially that containment and "benevolent neglect" are the only methods to deploy against a regime that, by its own self-definition, is as fixed and unchangeable as a steel and cement mold. All this short of actual military confrontation no one exterior to North Korea wants.
But, this is not the best part of the book. Myers advances and, I think, proves that North Korea is purely a product of its all-pervasive propaganda which literally soaks every aspect of daily life, twenty-four seven, learned in part from the brutal occupation tactics of the Japanese between 1905-1945. And this propaganda supports the two pillars of this Orwellian moonscape, the military and the Kim clan, arguably the most successful crime family since the fictional Corleones. North Korea is no longer properly understood as a "communist" society.Read more ›
Until recently, virtually the only books available in English on North Korea (or even South Korea) were the tendentious, self-indulgent polemics written by Bruce Cumings, professor of history at the University of Chicago. Cumings was largely discredited long ago, and Myers finishes the job. It is hard to imagine he will ever be taken seriously again.Read more ›
In this slim volume (169 pages plus endnotes) author BR Myers painstakingly examines how North Korean ideology evolved from the end of World War II to the present and how it affects North Korea's behavior and world view.
He explains that despite his Soviet loyalties Kim Il Sung had little knowledge of communism and when it came time to build a national ideology he turned to the one system he was familiar with, Japanese Imperialism. The comparisons between Japan's pre-war race-based ideology and North Korea's statements are striking. The legitimacy of the North Korean regime does not rest on liberating the workers of the world, quite the opposite. It builds its legitimacy on protecting the pure and innocent race of Korea and opposing the South, not because of politics, but because the South is a Yankee colony that allows its culture and blood to be defiled by foreign influences. Myer backs up this claim with citations from North Korean films, novels, posters and broadcasts - often reprinting the works for readers to see.
He believes that understanding this worldview explains some of North Korea's irrational claims and policies. It also shows why North Korea is so reluctant to liberalize along the Chinese model; any step away from its ideology of purity could remove the regime's legitimacy.
I have two frustrations with this book however. First Myers takes several shots at other scholars, these academic feuds distract from the subject.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This provides a good insight into the propaganda machine that currently runs North Korea, however the inside provided do not deviate wildly from what can be found in other sources. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Dated and not particularly insightful. Repetitive. Reads like he cobbled it together after an internet search.Published 5 months ago by Shatterbox
The author explains in precise terms what is really going on with North Korea. I now have a much clearer understanding of the history of the region and a rational explanation for... Read morePublished 6 months ago by JS
This is was interesting study of the North Korean people. Instead as a pure, super race, they view themselves as pure and without guile. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Stephen
A little bit scary, not re what the NKs might do to the West, but what they're doing to themselves. The author makes the case that, rather than following a strictly Communist... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Dr. S. Shapiro
A clear and insightful look into the environment and mindset of the inhabitants of the most mysterious countries on earth. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Lauren McM
Theological analysis of north korea propangada!Published 12 months ago by Sean Patrick Innocent Dineen
A good perspective but too opinionated and single sided. Still a good read for those who know about North Korea.Published 13 months ago by Robert D. Carle