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Customer Review

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to believe in the 21st Century but ..., 23 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea (Paperback)
I like to try different books, particularly non-fiction and I have previously read several Samuel Johnson prize winners/nominated books and have always found them fascinating and this book is right up there with the best of them. I knew nothing about North Korea except that it was a nuclear power and this book has really opened my eyes to a new world - one that it is hard to imagine for those of us living in a democracy. The people that Barbara has written about have led extraordinary lives and have survived some of the worst conditions of the late 20th Century and she has written a book that is not sentimental or seeking to be a polemic - it is just people's experiences of a regime that to us in the west seems an anachronism. Does anybody know why communist dictators call their countries democracies by the way? It is something I have never understood.

Anyway I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested to learn more about a country and society that has more resemblance to the dystopia of George Orwell's "1984" than to a 21st Century nation. It has been written in an easily accessible fashion and is not just a condemnation of a dictatorship - rather it seeks to tell the story of a country through the prism of the lives of ordinary citizens. Fascinating and disturbing it makes you realise how lucky we are in the West despite the fact that our politicians have feet of clay, they at least can be voted out if they do not satisfy and we can still disagree with policy without risking our lives and liberty. To all the defectors from North Korea, I say thank you for being brave enough to let Barbara tell your story and I hope that you will live long and fulfilling lives that are a rebuke to the political system of North Korea
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