- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; Reprint edition (September 21, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385523912
- ISBN-13: 978-0385523912
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,669 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea Reprint Edition
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“The narrow boundaries of our knowledge have expanded radically with the publication of Los Angeles Times correspondent Barbara Demick’s Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. . . . Elegantly structured and written, Nothing To Envy is a groundbreaking work of literary nonfiction.”–Slate
“Excellent . . . lovely work of narrative nonfiction . . . a book that offers extensive evidence of the author’s deep knowledge of this country while keeping its sights firmly on individual stories and human details.”–New York Times
“A deeply moving book.”–Wall Street Journal
“Superbly reported account of life in North Korea.’’–Bloomberg
“There’s a simple way to determine how well a journalist has reported a story, internalized the details, seized control of the narrative and produced good work. When you read the result, you forget the journalist is there. Barbara Demick, the Los Angeles Times’ Beijing bureau chief, has aced that test in “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea,” a clear-eyed and deeply reported look at one of the world’s most dismal places.’’–Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The ring of authority as well as the suspense of a novel.’’–Washington Times
“Excellent new book is one of only a few that have made full use of the testimony of North Korean refugees and defectors. A delightful, easy-to-read work of literary nonfiction, it humanizes a downtrodden, long-suffering people whose individual lives, hopes and dreams are so little known abroad that North Koreans are often compared to robots. . . . The tale of the star-crossed lovers, Jun-sang and Mi-ran, is so charming as to have inspired reports that Hollywood might be interested.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“In a stunning work of investigation, Barbara Demick removes North Korea’s mask to reveal what lies beneath its media censorship and repressive dictatorship.”–Daily Beast
“In spite of the strict restrictions on foreign press, awardwinning journalist Demick caught telling glimpses of just how surreal and mournful life is in North Korea. . . . Strongly written and gracefully structured, Demick’s potent blend of personal narratives and piercing journalism vividly and evocatively portrays courageous individuals and a tyrannized state.”—Booklist
“These are the stories you’ll never hear from North Korea’s state news agency.”–New York Post
“At times a page-turner, at others an intimate study in totalitarian psychology. Demick . . . takes us inside the minds of her subjects, rendering them as complex, often compelling characters—not the brainwashed parodies we see marching in unison in TV reports.”–Philadelphia Inquirer
“The last time I read a book with something truly harrowing or pitiful or sad on every page it was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and those characters had the good fortune to not be real.”–St. Louis Magazine
About the Author
Barbara Demick is the author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award and the winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize in the U.K., and Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Demick is a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and a contributor to The New Yorker, and was recently a press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Top customer reviews
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But I’m an American, I have no idea what it’s like to be afraid to criticize politicians. In truth, I don’t think anyone who hasn’t lived under the Kims could know how disparaging it is. It’s ‘1984’ come true in all the worst ways.
The news covers a regime, a country and the mad man who runs it. We hear of nuke testing, missle launches and sancuntions. But we don’t hear about the mothers trying to care for their families, the homeless, starving children or the men who are forced to work for no pay. This book is an eye opener. It focusing on those who really matter and it’s not the Kims, it’s the people who are trapped in his hell.
At the end of the day, I get to put down the book and return to my life. There is nothing that can be done to reach those who are suffering. But I’d like to think that just knowing that they are suffering helps in some small way. I am certainly more grateful for everything in my life.
Through the life stories of these citizens, the author has gone through what they had to do individually and as a group or family in order to survive. One woman in particular, Mrs. Song, who was the perfect North Korean citizen, was very industrious and resourceful in finding ways to make a little bit of money at a time in order to buy food for the next meal for her family. But she, along with many other North Koreans, went against what the government wanted and set up their own little individual businesses which might have been a tarp on the ground with biscuits for sale. After a while, these little "black market" enterprises made enough money for the people setting them up that they were able to buy more food than they had before, and provided a bit of food for the hungry to buy if they had any to spend at all.
American and other foreign aid in the form of grains, powdered milk and other food goods was sent in huge supplies to North Korea, but a lot of it never got to the people, but wound up being sold on the black market. While his people died of starvation, Kim Jong Il spent millions on food for himself from all over the world that was luxurious and exotic. This is the way of despots and dictators in repressed societies where, like in this one, the slogan was "Let's Eat Two Meals a Day" when most were lucky to eat grass boiled in water. But things get to a certain point when the people who are hard line believers in their government begin to realize that they have been lied to their entire lives. Many of these people defect or make the effort to defect from a northernmost city like Chongjin into China and either into Mongolia and on to South Korea or to Southeast Asia to make their way to a destination where they will be free.
Through these lengthy interviews with the people in the book, the author has given us a realistic and thoughtful look at North Korea. If you read nothing else on the subject, I recommend that you read this.
Most recent customer reviews
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