Synopses & Reviews
A National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle finalist, Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy is a remarkable view into North Korea, as seen through the lives of six ordinary citizens
Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.
“Paul French writes with wit, eloquence, and rare clarity about the complicated history of North Korea.”
“North Korea's ability to worry and shock remains perhaps the only predictable aspect of the country's behavior. Paul French's no-nonsense approach to understanding the country's history, political system, ideology, and what remains of its decimated economy is one of the best introductions to a country that does all it can to resist outside inspection and comprehension. This is the most accessible starting point for anyone wanting to understand the hermit kingdom.”
“This clear-eyed overview to North Korea’s modern history is packed full of fascinating detail. French ably outlines the hermit kingdom’s ideology, economic system, and haphazard efforts at reform, while simultaneously revealing why pickpockets target Kim Il-sung badges, what the North Korean cabinet’s position is on lice, and why smoking can be a small act of resistance.”
"Nothing to Envy" follows the lives of six North Koreans over 15 years--a chaotic period that saw the unchallenged rise to power of Kim Jong Il and the devastation of a famine that killed one-fifth of the population.
Secretive, mysterious, and almost certainly dangerous, North Korea is an object of endless fascination—and worry—for the rest of the world. The world’s most inaccessible nuclear power, it retains Gulag-style prison camps, completely blocks Internet access, and forbids citizens to talk to foreigners without approval—which makes the occasional report from a smart, dogged, connected analyst all the more valuable.
North Korea: State of Paranoia is just such a report. Drawing on an impressive range of insider sources and previously unseen archival material, Paul French examines the nation and its ruling regime in forensic detail. He offers a close analysis of the history and politics of North Korea; Pyongyang’s complex relations with South Korea, Japan, China, and the United States; and the troubling implications of Kim Jong-Un’s increasingly belligerent leadership in the years since his father, Kim Jong-il, died.
Straightforward and unsensationalistic, North Korea nonetheless paints a picture of a frightening unstable country, one whose sudden collapse could have globally dangerous consequences.
About the Author
is the Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times.
Her reporting on North Korea won the Overseas Press Club's award for human rights reporting as well as awards from the Asia Society and the American Academy of Diplomacy. Her coverage of Sarajevo for The Philadelphia Inquirer
won the George Polk Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting. Her previous book is Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Foreword: The Myth and the Reality of the State of Paranoia
Introduction: the paranoid peninsula
Part I - The Juche nation: beloved leaders, brilliant thoughts, power cuts and empty shelves
1. A normal day in Pyongyang
2. The Juche state: political theory in North Korea
3. The revolutionary dynasty: leadership in North Korea
Part II - The economics of North Korea: Chollima, speed battles, collapse and famine
4. Economics Pyongyang style: command and control
5. The worst of times: food, famine and the arduous march
6. The start of a sort of reform: change and regime survival
7. The reality of reform: a case study of Sinuiju
Part III - Diplomacy and military: foreign relations, nuclear crisis and self-defence
8. Don't poke the snake: US-DPRK relations
9. Nuclear ambitions revealed: bluster, brinkmanship or battle?
10. 'Military First' emerges
Part IV - Change, collapse and reunification
11. One Korea: the dream of reunification
12. Kim3: the dynasty continues
13. How will the story end?
Conclusion: still the world's most dangerous tripwire