- 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: 1,572 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,253 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.
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This book is an eye opener to what most North Koreans face on a daily basis.
Barbara Demick interviewed dozens of North Korean defectors from the same northern city to build a complete picture of a place that is more like a prison than a country, where millions starve while the government builds nuclear weapons and where everything is slowly falling apart.
One woman recalls going to the clothing factory each day until they stopped getting cloth, then she would still go to clean and do make work, then to raise food on the factory grounds until finally the factory told her to stop coming.
A doctor remembers how her medical bag started full and year by year grew emptier until she was foraging in the hills for herbs and using beer bottles for IVs, then foraging in the hills for food to survive. When she fled to China she saw a dish of white rice and meat sitting on a stoop and realized that in China the dogs eat better than the doctors in North Korea.
A kindergarten class starts with 50 students and finishes with 15, the missing children are either too weak to come to school, or have starved to death.
Through it all the city of Chongjin itself dies. One by one the factories close for lack of supplies or fuel. The theaters and restaurants go dark from lack of electricity. Then the wires and machines are looted for scrap metal. Finally the food disappears.
But it's not all doom and gloom. Demick weaves in family dramas and a love story to remind us that behind the fearsome military and the insane government are real people with hopes, dreams and feelings.
There are other miserable places in Earth but reading this book reminds me that no where else is the misery so deliberate. The prosperity of South Korea and China show that there is no reason North Korea has to starve, there is no unrest, no famine. The government has chosen this policy to maintain its insane vision of socialist and racial purity.
I cannot recommend this book enough. Read it. You'll be moved.