It is an incredible story of overcoming. Even if you'd heard the story in synopsis but not read the book you won't be able to put it down.
This book lingered in my present consciousness for a long time. Very powerful.
This book needs to be translated into Chinese to hopefully lead to regime change in North Korea
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
I watched the interview on 60 Minutes and I was looking forward at reading Shin's memoir. It was interesting to listen to about his life in the labor camp in North Korea, but there is something missing. There is not enough of his story in "Escape from Camp 14." Blaine Harden tells Shin's life as a magazine article that you would find at a doctor's office.
Shin's story is not well told. Shin wrote a book about his life in Korean. I would much rather listened to his version of his life because it would had been more compelling than a journalist telling his story in the third person.
Plus, Harden narrating of his own book is just bad. He has no sense of pace. It is as if he is glancing over the newspaper and reading the headlines.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
For a long time, I have thought of myself as someone who is interested in international human rights, but I have really never given much thought to the situation in North Korea. This book really changed my ideas on the topic. Now that I have finished this slim volume, I find it difficult to understand how the world has allowed the suffering of the North Korean people to continue for so long. From the story of this one escapee, it has become clear to me that the entire country is basically one huge concentration camp. I guess the threat of nuclear weapons explains why the western democracies have allowed this situation to fester for so long, but even so it seems something ought to be done.
This audio book was read by the author. The performance was fairly well done and I would recommend this version of the book.
Mike is a national communications professional whose firm, Mike Collins Public Relations, has offices in Tampa and Washington, DC
Blaine Harden is a superb journalist whose account is compelling; his narration proves that authors and publishers should hire professional voice talent. His metronome-like pedantic delivery (and the frequent obvious edits) made me wish I'd bought the text instead of the audio version.
It's a pity, because this story needs to be told. It is the account of the only person known to have escaped from a North Korean labor camp (where 50,000 are believed to be imprisoned) to the United States. The subject of his story was actually "bred" to be a prisoner, since the North Korean "justice" system punishes guilt by association: in other words, the wrongdoer, his parents and his children alike are forced to "wash away" the guilt of the accused.
The regime forces this young man's parents into a marriage, then pits mother against child for food. When the mother assists a brother in an escape, all four family members are subjected to torture (including, in this case, hanging a 10-year-old boy over hot coals and lowering him into the heat until he passed out from the pain and smell of his burning skin). He and his father are forced to watch as the mother and his brother are hanged and shot.
His escape is harrowing -- but Harden's listless delivery makes the story difficult to follow.
I urge everyone to read "Escape from Camp 14" -- just don't buy the audio version read by the author.
No doubt, it was the central character himself : a deeply disturbing example of North Korean repression.
Never. I will continue to read his work in the newspaper, and will read his books. But he should never, ever, attempt to narrate again. Mistake.
The story itself is powerful and should be read by all freedom-loving people everywhere.
You should not find it possible to read this book and then go on about your business of thinking of North Korea as only a country unfortunately ruled by mad monsters. One feels bound to do something to help. The single major -- but very critical -- problem is the amateurish reading performance by the author, marked by literally hundreds of obvious and thus ill-fitting and distracting edits and changes of intonation, reading speed and timbre. I imagine there had to be a good reason for this, but I can't imagine what that reason was. Mr. Harden, you're a pro in the writing, but get a pro to do the reading next time.
Close up look at the twisted thinking of the North Korean leadership and how it treats those who disagree with government policy. Hard to believe this can continue to go on in the 21st century.
The context of the book is great, and important. However I would buy the physical book - the audiobook sounds like it was done in multiple takes and intonation can be all over the place
The narrator ruined this book for me. He doesn't do any voices for the characters at all. Just reads it though like a book report or something. The sound editing is horrible. Many parts actually sound like a different man pops in to read 1 or 2 sentences where they have gone back to do some editing.
The story is written in the third person like a documentary. I finished Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea before this one and enjoyed it much more. I probably would have enjoyed this one more with a better narrator.
Finally, a book without fluff where no word is superfluous. Excellent story, writing and narration. It far exceeded my expectations and I ended up listening to it, virtually straight through. Highly recommended.