- 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: 1,533 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,189 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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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Following six North Koreans over the course of 15 years, Demick offers a haunting portrait of life in North Korea. Her subjects are instantly relatable—they fall in love, raise families—but as their country grows increasingly isolated, totalitarian, and repressive, and is ravaged by unemployment and famine, they risk everything to leave. Karen White delivers a stunning reading; her character interpretations are confident and well-rounded, and she forges a strong bond with the audience. Powerful without becoming overwrought, White handles the harrowing material with sensitivity and intelligence. An unforgettable listening experience that will resonate long after the final sentence. A Random hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 28). (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
*Starred Review* In spite of the strict restrictions on foreign press, award-winning journalist Demick caught telling glimpses of just how surreal and mournful life is in North Korea. Her chilling impressions of a dreary, muffled, and depleted land are juxtaposed with a uniquely to-the-point history of how North Korea became an industrialized Communist nation supported by the Soviet Union and China and ruled by Kim Il Sung, then collapsed catastrophically into poverty, darkness, and starvation under the dictator’s son, Kim Jong Il. Demick’s bracing chronicle of the horrific consequences of decades of brutality provide the context for the wrenching life stories of North Korean defectors who confided in Demick. Mi-ran explains that even though her “tainted blood” (her father was a South Korean POW) kept her apart from the man she loved, she managed to become a teacher, only to watch her starving students waste away. Dr. Kim Ki-eum could do nothing to help her dying patients. Mrs. Song, a model citizen, was finally forced to face cruel facts. 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 within a saga of unfathomable suffering punctuated by faint glimmers of hope. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
There are so many unforgettable stories in this book, the one of Mi-Ran and Jun-Sang, read like a Shakespearean tragedy. As these two young teens carry on a secret romantic (and non-sexual relationship) violating societal and class norms, the reader understands the true personal loneliness that a totalitarian society exerts not on the individual, the inability to trust even those closest to them. As Jun-Sang's schooling leaves him far away from Mi-Ran, we understand the extent to which a famine consumes the country, killing even the healthiest, and causing citizens like Mi-Ran to consider the unthinkable, fleeing the country through China in order to make it to South Korea to survive the catastrophe unfolding before their eyes to the family and neighbors.
"Nothing to Envy" is a brilliant book in how deeply it humanizes the people of North Korea, pawns of a corrupt, maniacal family that has exerted absolute control over 20+million people for nothing more than power. Outside of the ruling family, everyone else is a dispensable pawn, only valuable in so far as they further the ends of Kim Il-sung and his heirs. Demick gives voice to the untold stories that represent the millions unfortunate to be born into a repressive totalitarian society, virtually all with little hope and no control on their ultimate destiny, most fortunate to have food to eat to live for another day. This book is just as important a read today given how little conditions have changed for North Koreans.
I want to make this clear: North Korea's slaves (the population) were purposely starved by North Korean commie dictators. It is amazing that some still defend North Korea (and to some degree Stalin, Mao, Lenin) in the face of such evidence. But then the left has probably more than a hundred million of deaths to justify under the claim of 'helping the common man'; the irrational distaste for the profit motive remains strong.
The book lost a star only in missing an editor. It is a compilation of reporting, but an editor should have caught the repetitions, some only separated by a paragraph.