Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
I appreciated "Nothing to Envy" by Barbara Demick... the understanding it brought of the North Korean people and lifestyle meant a great deal to me... despite the poor narration and rough writing style. This book is much shorter and less convoluted as it follows just the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in detention Camp 14 in North Korea and knew no other life. It also has issues with writing style and narration... written in an irritating 3rd person and narrated by the author... however, I couldn't stop listening. The horrific mental and physical abuse he and his family suffered, his unbelievable escape and struggles adapting to freedom are heartbreaking. Mr. Harden's 3rd person style does allow him to explain the politics of the region and recent events. Very much worth my time to listen and learn.
This well research documentary is much larger than 5 days at Memorial, although the first half of the book takes place there. FYI- The prologue is irritating and can just be skipped. The story unfolds with interesting detail as Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans and the power fails. You watch Memorial Hospital descend into chaos as systems and people fail to communicate. Then with the rescue in full swing on the 5th day the Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) patients on the 2nd and 7th floor die within a 3 hour period. Family members were forced to leave as they were euthanized. The 2nd half of the book looks at what happened and why, the court cases, what happened at other hospitals in New Orleans at the time and then forwards to recent problems in Haiti and Hurricane Sandy in New York to see if anything was learned. It is an eye opener and I couldn't stop listening.
The book starts slowly with lots of telling and an irritating narrator and you will want to turn off - don't! Barbara Demick interviewed about 100 refuges from North Korea and shares what she has learned in a generalized way - that is the boring part. But then she shares the stories of 6 of these people and their life in and escape from North Korea - this is the amazing part. The people chosen reflect all walks of life in society: teacher, orphan, student, party member, physician, housewife... you also meet their families and friends. The stories weave as the years pass and you grow to love the resilience of the North Koreans and understand better what is going on culturally and politically. Honestly, I had no clue. It is a brutal life but told honestly, simply and without dramatics. I am grateful for the insights and courageous folks she introduces to us. Great read.