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on 10 October 2017
Nothing to Envy
The layout makes it easy to understand. There are 20 chapters and at the back of the book a short introduction to each chapter.
Barbara Demick had travelled to North Korea many times but had always been disappointed that it was difficult to get information from people because they are constantly watched by the security police. In the end she concentrated on speaking to people who had escaped N.K. and settled in China or South Korea. It is obvious that she has spent a huge amount of time speaking to Koreans over more than a decade. She chronicles how some although they have escaped N.K. are still afraid to speak because they have relatives still living under what must be the most inhuman regime in the world.
The famine of the 1990,s is researched in great depth to show how some people started to have doubts about the regime whilst others maintained an absolute faith in “their dear father”.
This is certainly the best book on North Korea that I have come across.
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on 20 October 2017
I picked up this book after Kim Jong-il's death brought North Korea to my interest. N. Korea was always on my peripheral as an oddity of a country, but I didn't know much more than that, which is what led to me buying this book. I did the usual of reading about online through various sites however wanted to sink my teeth in to the people of North Korea and this book did just that.

It was gripping and I steamed through it in lightning fashion however that's not to say it was an easy read. It gives you the knowledge you have, the big picture, and then will give you the harsher reality of that picture - breaking the already bleak illusion.

A brilliant nonfiction which should be added to anybody's list looking to try and understand North Korea and it's peoples.
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on 29 May 2017
I urge anyone who would like an insight in to lives in North Korea to read this. Personally, I found it compelling reading. I read it about 5 years ago and in view of the current situation I may well read it again. One of the most fascinating facts it revealed was if ever north and south were unified there would be a clear distinction between average height etc of the 2 peoples due to the repression, poor diet etc.
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on 10 August 2017
Well, mistakenly I thought this was not for me but it blew me away. It has opened my eyes about real life in North Korea. Very thought provoking, I think it should be on everyone's wish list. Wonderfully factual and empathetic with the majority of the North Korean people.
Thank you Barbara Demick.
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on 29 May 2017
This book came highly recommended for those interested in the human lives of North Korea and the stories of the defectors and it did not disappoint.

Although it is now seven years old, it didn't feel dated and I can't imagine it's lost any of it's impact from when it was first released. Demick's well-crafted narrative weaves a complex picture of a forbidden country and her detailed citations help provide some of the accuracy needed for this book to really hit home.
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on 15 April 2014
While working for the LA Times in Seoul, Demeck interviewed in depth five defectors from North Korea. The book is mainly their story, but she is brilliant at putting these experiences in context. I've learned so much about the history, economy, culture and political situation in North Korea but I never felt I was reading a textbook. She writes beautifully and really brings her interviewees to life. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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on 21 July 2017
What an eye-opening, if harrowing peek into the DPRK and the lives of regular North Koreans. I was previously aware of the negative headlines surrounding the reclusive regime, even many of the statistics relating to famine, economy, defectors and so on, but Barbara Demick demonstrates that these statistics are real people who are are suffering real horrors and injustices. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, even if the only result is a renewed sense of gratitude for the privileges that we currently enjoy.
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on 18 August 2017
This is a sensitively written account of life's struggles in North Korea. I found it a compelling read that follows individuals trying to better their lives while allowing the reader an insight into their restricted lives.
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on 26 August 2017
I learned so much about North Korea from this book. The story was very well constructed and beautifully written - you could really feel the author's passion for the subject. Definitely worth a read!
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on 8 September 2017
An enthralling read of life in North Korea. It's so sad that the vast majority of the people are forced to live in diabolical conditions due to the most oppressive government in the world. Brilliantly written by Barbara.
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