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North Korea: Another Countryby Bruce Cumings
Synopses & Reviews
AMERICA'S LEADING AUTHORITY ON KOREA PROVIDES A TIMELY LOOK AT US--KOREAN RELATIONS Judging from media reports, North Korea is the country Americans love to hate. A charter member of Bush's "Axis of Evil" whose leader, Kim Jong II, is routinely described as "insane" and "diabolical" and a self-proclaimed alternative to neo-liberalism and globalization, North Korea is anathema to conservative and liberal Americans alike. And now the CIA says it possesses one or two nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and long-range missiles capable of delivering atomic bombs or smallpox to America's West Coast. Suffering no misconceptions regarding North Korea's dubious political tradition--from human-rights violations to token democracy--Bruce Cumings insists on a more nuanced understanding of US - North Korean relations. From CIA reports on North Korea's impressive social programs to that country's genuine efforts to address the new strategic environment since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Cumings draws from his extensive knowledge of Korean history and declassified government reports to show that North Korea is as fascinating as it is repellent, as formidable as it is unique and idiosyncratic.
Book News Annotation:
For the United States, the Korean War is the forgotten war, and North Korea itself remains the unknown country, with American foreign policy towards it plagued by ignorance and long-standing racism. In what is essentially a plea to normalize relations with the so-called "Axis of Evil" country, Cumings (history, U. of Chicago) details the background of the long-simmering political crisis between the United States and North Korea. He describes how the Communists came to power in the context of centuries of authoritarian feudalism; examines how massive destruction unleashed by the U.S. in the war, including the bombing of dams, has conditioned North Korean perceptions of U.S. intentions; and offers a picture of North Korean society and its leaders that counters much of the mythology that currently passes for analysis. While we may find the North Korean leaders abhorrent, Cumings says, they aren't going away, so it behooves us to try to understand them.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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 our leaders or our 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 Il regime, Cumings nonetheless insists on a more nuanced approach. The result is both a counter-narrative to the official U.S. and North Korean versions 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.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -241).
About the Author
Bruce Cumings is the author of North Korea, Korea’s Place in the Sun, and Parallax Visions. He teaches at the University of Chicago.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: War is a stern teacher — Chapter 2: The nuclear crisis: first act and sequel — Chapter 3: The legend of Kim IL Sung — Chapter 4: Daily life in North Korea — Chapter 5: The world's first postmodern dictator — Chapter 6: Beyond good and evil.
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