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Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea Paperback – 8 Jul 2010
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'These stories, very effectively told here in all their human detail, are immensely touching' --Daily Mail
'This remarkable book confirms our fears but does much more ... Barbara Demick is a reporter of impressive tenacity and thoroughness' --The Times
`This compelling book is a worthy winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson prize' --Guardian
`I've never read anything quite like it ... Demick has unearthed some heartbreaking human stories' --Evening Standard
'This book reads with the emotional intensity of fiction, yet it rigorously trails the realities of ordinary people'
'Her prize-winning book - updated after the succession to power of the young dictator, Kim Jong-Un - tells the harrowing stories of six people and their sufferings in Chongjin. A must read' --Paperback review, Daily Mail
About the Author
Barbara Demick has worked as a staff reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, covering Wall Street and the presidential elections, among other assignments. Her coverage of the war in Sarajevo won the George Polk Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting. She is now a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, where she has reported from the Middle East and South Korea. She is currently based in Beijing.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book not only offers an insight into the real lives of six North Koreans, and puts human names and faces on the statistics, but taught me several things I didn't even know. I knew there had been a famine in North Korea in the 90s, but I did not know how severe it actually was. This is possibly due in part to my age - I was born in '89, so I was too young to pay attention to any news broadcasts about it we may have had at the time. I didn't know that people were reduced to eating husks and the bark off of trees, with grass to create the illusion of vegetables. I didn't know that North Korea ended up losing most aid that was given, as it would only show the healthiest children when aid agencies came to see the extent of the famine, who then had to conclude they didn't need as much aid as they thought, and that the aid they did get was mostly confiscated by the military and sold for profit on the black market instead of being properly distributed.Read more ›
Having met Barbara Demick at the literary event where I purchased this book I was able to sample a rather intriguing appetizer of what was to come, however neither the discussion, nor my trip was to prepare me for the heartrending accounts of human adversity.
It is no secret that North Korea is a totalitarian state mired in abject poverty, but this timely volume provides personal accounts, putting human faces on North Koreas anonymous victims.
Nothing to Envy draws its title from a poems verse DPRK school children are made to recite, stating "we have nothing to envy in the world." While most in the West are able to see through that façade, the book takes us through a recollection of events wherein six DPRK citizens residing in North Koreas third largest city, Chongjin, eventually see through the ubiquitous illusion force fed upon the population, and endure heartbreaking hardship to flee the secretive state.
The book begins with the story of a young couple who use the all encapsulating darkness of the energy starved state to conduct a secret love affair, rendered almost impossible due to the class backgrounds within a supposedly classless society. Slowly we are introduced to more victims of North Koreas increasingly bleak disposition, all the while the story weaves back and forth between the main protagonists.
We learn how efficient and draconian the state apparatus is in the enforcement of state loyalty, how truly devastating the North Korean famine of mid 90s was, and also the continued hardship facing North Koreans after they have defected.Read more ›
If there is any criticism, it is merely that although it was written in 2009, it relates to the events of the 1990s. Screaming away in my mind was a voice asking 'what's it been like since?'
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book lead me from North Korean curious to NK geek. I'd visited the DMZ, read the odd Vice article, poked fun at the Hermit Kingdom a bit, and then read this book. What a saga. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
This book follows 5 different characters through their memories of living in North Korea and how their lives have altered since their escapes. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Mrs C
I'm not usually a lover of non-fiction and so I thoroughly enjoyed the story telling style used in this book. It was informative whilst feeling personal and emotional. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jodie Downes
Loved the book, great writing, harrowing content but well worth a read!Published 1 month ago by N. A.
I knew next to nothing about Korea (north or south) before reading this book. However Ms Demick's succinct journalistic style has educated me far better than any news reports I... Read morePublished 1 month ago by alison
I found this book really interest, well written and a real eye opener of how much humans will tolerate and how much they can survive. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mrs
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