C. A. Dees
This is an important story for anyone concerned about the struggle for human rights in the world. It is almost inconceivable that the man at the center of this story, Shin Dong Hyuk, was able to survive the brutality of perhaps the most notorious prison in North Korea, but even more so, to escape and find his own sense of humanity and a modicum of peace.
Shin's fellow inmate who tells him stories about life outside the prison, and in so doing, introduces Shin to the idea of kindness for kindness's sake -- a book about that alone would be fascinating.
Not likely, though I would read one of his books.
That the most brutal prisons in North Korea don't bother to indoctrinate prisoners about "the Great Leader," etc., because there's no point. Those prisoners aren't leaving and there is no pretense of re-education along the party line. They are, simply, slaves.
While the text itself was good (if a little lacking in passion) the narration was truly awful. The author's reading itself was tolerable, though monotone and without any real inflection. However, that, combined with choppy editing, varying sound levels and equalization, made for a difficult listening experience over the span of several hours. This seemed to be edited by someone who had no experience editing voice recordings. Breaths are cut off, there are no pauses between sentences or even paragraphs, and there was little awareness of flow. A book this important deserves a thoughtful, professional narration.
I don't write book reports.
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 brutality of this story reminds me of the book unbroken. After reading this book you will want to help all the people of North Korea. It is a must read
This man's story surprised me and changed my perception on North Korea. I love how after all the pain and struggles he went through, he found his faith in Christ. Thank you.
Ani Rotseh Likroh
The story is compelling g and will keep you engaged. But the book is written as a piece of journalism and not as a story or biography. Still, it is well worth your time. It is good journalism. It is not great literature