With all that's been in the news about North Korea lately, I thought it time to learn more. This book is, I think, as good of a place to start as any.
The book is about several citizens, mostly in the lower end of the sociopolitical strata. You learn that all of these people are escapees from the regime and though I believe the accounts, you do have to recognize that they represent a unique sample of the society.
That said, Barbara Demick does a great job of telling the stories without embellishing the accounts. My guess is that she realizes that they don't need any added emphasis or passionate vitriol; for most Americans, the situation under the "Dear Leader" is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
If you ever wonder why the people of North Korea hate us so much, you will get your answer in this narrative. You will also learn, as I did, that the chances are very low that we will see another Libyan or Syrian type uprising in North Korea (we will be dealing with the most unfriendly country imaginable until we or they cease to exist). Finally, you will also learn, as the title explains, just what an ordinary life in North Korea looks like.
Karen White's reading is adequate, but not great. I don't want to tell you what bothered me about her style lest you listen for my complaint. However, if you do find yourself thinking that something about her reading bothers you, keep listening. Either she gets better, you get used to it, or the story becomes so compelling that you don't notice.
This is one of the better nonfiction books that I have listened to. It is more than just a bunch of information that we can put in our brains in the section marked "North Korea". It is a book that connects with me emotionally and makes me want to reach out and know more.
There were many compelling aspects of this story. I'd have to say, though, that I most liked that Demick was able to connect me with more than one character, which is something that I enjoy in Charles Dickens' works.
I loved the character Miran.
Yes, it was.
Pretty high, interesting and a view of life outside of my realm
Listening seemed better, reading might be dry at times
A Korean American co-worker recommended this book and I was shocked throughout it - how could this happen, and continue to happen, to an entire nation (albeit a small one)? In my opinion, it should be required reading in history class and yet another lesson to all on how one egotistical & crazy man can take over an entire nation and bring it down.
enlightening, gripping, sad
I'll listen to this repeatedly to get a better feel for life without freedom or incentive to work hard to improve one's station in life.
I really enjoyed this book. I knew basically nothing about north korea and became completely absorbed in the stories of these people's lives. Wow, what a place.
I listen to approximately 40 hours of audio books a month. I love audio books.
This was a well written book depicting the lives of average North Koreans. These people have truly led incredible yet horrific lives. The North Korean regime is evil on a level that's hardly conceivable to the average North American. I enjoyed this listen very much and agree whole heartedly with the title. I wish with all my heart that better things are to come and soon to the North Korean people.
I was recommended this book by a friend and I have recommended it to many of my friends and family already. I also want my children (who are teens) to listen to it. The book provides a unique opportunity to "experience" vicariously (through the lives of the people who were lucky to escape the country) what live in North Korea is. How people can be brainwashed and what a dictatorial regime can achieve in a little bit more than half a century. After reading the book I watched a number of YouTube videos of the people who were able to escape from the country. Their descriptions and the books gave me (I think) a good picture of what is happening there... It also made me appreciate how much in our lives doesn't depend on us. What if I was born in North Korea - how much freedom to shape my life would I have had? I felt lucky not to be born there, yet I often felt at awe by the people who were able to realize that the way they were forced to live was a lie, that things were NOT going right and it was not there fault... Being born in the Soviet Union, I could make a lot of parallels with what I heard in the book and I what I have experienced. I, however, felt lucky to experience the fall of the Soviet Union and I hope the people in North Korea will live to experience the fall of their regime.
I also think the idea of the book is very interesting as it gives us a very different prospective from the book if it was just written by a visitor to the country.
I am not sure I can say who my favourite character was... Probably the author who was meeting all these people and tried very hard to understand what they went through.
Her narration is excellent. I somehow imagined her to be the author, the person who interviewed the people... I like the narration very much. I listen to the book in a few days - it was very engaging. I also felt that she felt compassion for the characters in the book. She was a part of the story.
I grew up in the Soviet Union and this made me reading the book even more interesting. I am not sure I picked up one tidbit, but I was able to look at these people and see myself in many of the stories... We were like them and somehow people in the former USSR were able to resist this brainwashing. I hope their regime will be toppled and South and North Korea will reunite (although I am very concerned about the process)...
I just loved the book and would like to express my thanks to the author and to the people who produced this wonderful audiobook. A great read.
The story is bleak, heart wrenching and totally captivating. There is a great mix of detail on the national and personal scale that brings this story to life. I was so engrossed that I would find myself shivering and hungry at the end of every section.
I should have said it resembles tea.
The stories of the ordinary people who had been brainwashed into believing they had "nothing to envy" were very touching. But also very sad. I very rarely read non-fiction, but this book was recommended by a friend and I would recommend it to others looking to learn more about the lives in North Korea. N. Korea generally only makes headlines when its leaders demonstrate their military might, but the typical American knows very little about the lives of ordinary citizens. It was shocking to learn of the famine and plight of the people. This book brought their daily lives into view in a touching way. I hope the author continues to follow the lives of her subjects and possibly even publishes another book. It would be very interesting to know if / how things have changed in the country since the demise of the Son - Kim Jong Il.