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North Korea: Another Country Paperback – 1 Jan 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; Reprint edition (1 Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156584940X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565849402
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 13.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

Depicted as an insular and forbidding police state with an "insane" dictator at its helm, North Korea - charter member of Bush's "Axis of Evil" - is a country the U.S. loves to hate. Now the CIA says it possesses nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as long-range missiles capable of delivering them to America's West Coast. But, as Bruce Cumings demonstrates in this provocative, lively read, the story of the U.S.-Korea conflict is more complex than American leaders or news media would have us believe. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Korea, and on declassified government reports, Cumings traces that story, from the brutal Korean War to the present crisis. Harboring no illusions regarding the totalitarian Kim Jong II regime, Cumings nonetheless insists on a more nuanced approach. The result is both a counter-narrative to the official U.S. - and North Korean - version and a fascinating portrayal of North Korea; a country that suffers through foreign invasions, natural disasters, and its own internal contradictions, yet somehow continues to survive.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 5 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This extremely useful book provides us with evidence that undermines the stereotypes that pass for knowledge of the DPRK. Cumings is a professor of history at the University of Chicago, and is the foremost historian of the USA’s long war against Korea.
He cites a CIA study that “acknowledged various achievements of this regime: compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular, ‘radical change’ in the position of women; genuinely free housing, free health care and preventive medicine; and infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the recent famine.” The government also gave land to the peasants, and provided free education.
Cumings shows that the war in Korea was part of a long civil war and that the invasion in June 1950 did not start the conflict, so it did not define the conflict. The UN fell for the US and British governments’ lie that it was an invasion. But how could Koreans ‘invade’ their own country?

It was also a war against the foreign occupier. In December 1945, the commander of the US occupation forces, General Hodge, ‘declared war’ on the communist party in the South.

As Richard Stokes, Britain’s Minister of Works, wrote in 1950, “In the American Civil War the Americans would never have tolerated for a single moment the setting up of an imaginary line between the forces of North and South, and there can be no doubt as to what would have been their reaction if the British had intervened in force on behalf of the South. This parallel is a close one because in America the conflict was not merely between two groups of Americans, but was between two conflicting economic systems as is the case in Korea.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. R. Brandon TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 Dec. 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent little book that goes a long way to explaining the present siege mentality of the North Korean government and society. It meticulously charts the efforts of the Clinton administration to break the deadlock in US - Korean relations and to end the need for the North Koreans to construct missiles and nuclear weapons. The wrecking of this carefully constructed approach by G. W. Bush is described. The book goes on to chart the background of Kim Il Sung and the present leader Kim Jong Il in the most interesting terms and describes the country and the natural and other disasters that have set back its progress in the 1990s. The book ends with a discussion of the life values of Korean society and how these differ from the West and our (or American) ignorance of these important values. A stimulating read for anyone interested in modern politics and history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By scooter wey on 23 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How refreshing that a highly respected academic power-house like Bruce Cummings can cur through the usual anti-North Korea bias and propaganda, and tell the story of what happened in Korea and how it happened, with honesty and clear-headedness that exposes the many popular myths and assumptions about North Korea to be nothing more than complete fantasy with no historical base. North Korea sits behind a tightly locked door. But is the door being held fast from the inside or the outside- and why?
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. L. Naish on 13 July 2009
Format: Paperback
This is by far the best book I've read so far on North Korea. Cummings is articulate and insightful about his subject but never short sighted about the north's failings. Although its clear that Cummings does share a great love for North Korea's people and culture he doesn't give Kim Jong or his father Kim il Sung an easy ride, painting the son as a playboy and tyrant. Overall this book covers a lot of depth and gives the reader an honest and nonjudgmental look at a strange and secret world.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Danny of Arabia on 8 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
There is one and only one plus point about this book and that is it warms the heart to know that Modern Middle East Studies isn't the only field to suffer from this apologia for genocidal dictators. One can only assume given the proliferation of stridently anti-Kim books coming out that he felt the need to balance the scales by writing this. One have in this small book the classic techniques:

1) Start by dismissing anything that could contradict your point of view. Cummings states that we can only rely on official DPRK media for our "facts" - of course you need to "parse" it. The fact there are now thousands of DPRK refugees, a large number not living in South Korea let alone "run" by the ROK security services apparently doesn't matter. Now we can dismiss all those bothersome reports. For instance, we can claim Kim Il Sung was a general - he was!, in charge of 300 partisans - and that he was independent leader - this despite copious documentation to the contrary coming out of the USSR archives post fall. We also have the DPRK line on nuclear development - all totally peaceful, no proof of a weapons programme( the book came out a few months before the first DPRK nuclear test ).

2) Go back to a bygone age. We have a lot of talking about DPRK in the 70s and 80s. I suspect part of this is because that's when Cummings was last in the DPRK and also in the ROK. It is also when the DPRK and ROK could last be compared economically and when there was a comfortable grey in that both were military dictatorships. However this book is meant to be about now and there is a clear blue sea between the two countries.
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