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The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea

The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea [Kindle Edition]

Charles Robert Jenkins , Jim Frederick
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £28.95
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Product Description


"Charles Jenkins' memoir is a genuinely unique account of the only American ever to live in North Korea for most of his life and return to write about it. Part biography, part eyewitness testimony, part apology, this book takes Mr. Jenkins from a childhood in the segregated South to a U.S. Army ruling the roost in South Korea in the 1950s, to a North Korea that saw him as a real-life Martian, but a valuable one for use in Cold War propaganda." - Bruce Cummings, Chairman of the History Department at the University of Chicago "Robert Jenkins is a modern-day Robinson Crusoe, isolated from the outside world, and relying on his wits to survive in a nightmarish parody of a nation where nothing is as it seems. Living in constant fear and violence, set within the bizarre and Orwellian surroundings of North Korea during the late 20th century, Jenkins's account is like no other I've ever read." - Jasper Becker, author of Rogue Regime: The Continuing Threat of North Korea"

Product Description

In January of 1965, twenty-four-year-old U.S. Army sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins abandoned his post in South Korea, walked across the DMZ, and surrendered to communist North Korean soldiers standing sentry along the world's most heavily militarized border. He believed his action would get him back to the States and a short jail sentence. Instead he found himself in another sort of prison, where for forty years he suffered under one of the most brutal and repressive regimes the world has known. This fast-paced, harrowing tale, told plainly and simply by Jenkins (with journalist Jim Frederick), takes the reader behind the North Korean curtain and reveals the inner workings of its isolated society while offering a powerful testament to the human spirit.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1204 KB
  • Print Length: 238 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0520253337
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (1 April 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001JAH864
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #187,800 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, especially for newbie 28 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a great account of the bizarre and twisted world of the DPRK. It demonstrates an evolution of the country over many years, as well as a unique insight into what it's like being a foreigner there - and how differently you get treated.

Some reviewers say there's nothing new here - maybe not, but if you're new to the subject of one of the world's most enigmatic nations, this is a great starting point.

The writing style is not dramatic, and the author does not add any flair to the story - it's not necessary. The content alone makes up for the lack of flair, and it's easy to imagine an ageing American man telling the story to you.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An unusual life 10 Dec 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Charles Robert Jenkins (CRJ) tells the story of his life from his teens into the army to North Korea and into retirement in Japan. What makes this book rather intriguing are the 40 years the guy spent in North Korea.

And Yes it is an interesting story in a way, but I was not terribly impressed. If you are new to all-things North Korea this is worthwhile reading, but if you have read (and reviewed) loads of books on the country you might be a bit disappointed. CRJ gives a good overview over his life as such but like others here I was missing the nitty-gritty of daily life. Besides, compared to the average north Korean he leads a rather privileged life. I had to smile when he talks about his escape from the country. The whole affair struck me like a political arrangement between two countries.

The book's title I thought a bit odd. One isn't a reluctant communist if one defects to a communist country, which North Korea was assumed to be in the 1960s. Also it struck me a bit naïve even for a twenty-something to assume that he would be handed over to the Soviets, who would then hand him over to the Americans. If that had been the case, what was the point in defecting in the first place, one wonders.

At the evening of his life Charles Robert Jenkins must wonder if the US army was such a bad place compared to North Korea.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read. 18 April 2011
Having visited North Korea on a number of occasions I was fascinated to hear about the exploits of Robert Charles Jenkins and Joseph Dresnok. Comrade Joe is still in Pyongyang to this day. Reading about his forty years of living as a Korean is a fascinating insight into the life of those who have never had a choice of where they lived or could possibly understand how free the rest of the world really are. This a must read book for anyone contemplating a visit to DPRK or anyone who has the slightest of interest in the hermit country.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it 10 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very unique experience, Interesting read, couldn't put it down!! highly recommended if you are interested in north korea. good book.
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