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Nothing to Envy Audiobook

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

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Publisher's Summary

Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over 15 years - a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung and the unchallenged rise to power of his son, Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population.

Taking us into a landscape never before seen, Demick brings to life what it means to be an average Korean citizen, living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today - an Orwellian world in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, a country that is by choice not connected to the Internet, a society in which outward displays of affection are punished, and a police state that rewards informants and where an offhanded remark can send a citizen to the gulag for life. Demick's subjects - a middle-aged party loyalist and her rebellious daughter, an idealistic female doctor, an orphan, and two young lovers - all hail from the same provincial city in the farthest-flung northern reaches of the country. One by one, we witness the moments of revelation, when each realizes that they have been betrayed by the Fatherland and that their suffering is not a global condition but is uniquely theirs.

Nothing to Envy is the first book about North Korea to go deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and penetrate the mind-set of the average citizen. It is a groundbreaking and essential addition to the literature of totalitarianism.

©2010 Barbara Demick; (P)2009 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A fascinating and deeply personal look at the lives of six defectors from the repressive totalitarian regime of the Republic of North Korea." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (2409 )
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Performance
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  •  
    cheeky California 01-09-15
    cheeky California 01-09-15
    ratings
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    "Compelling and fascinating"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Nothing to Envy to be better than the print version?

    I think I would rather read the book, having listened to the narration.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    I really don't have an answer for this. I did not care for the narration.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator had very strange voice modulations and emphasized words strangely. There was perhaps too much emphasis put on the pronunciations of the Korean words. It was like listening to Siri read, with that choppy, slightly monotone manner than computerized speech has.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    I was fascinated by the descriptions of the faith that people had in the North Korean regime to take care of their needs and their unquestioning loyalty to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Terrifying.


    Any additional comments?

    If vocal quality and narration style is something you really care about, you might want to just read the print version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-06-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Most extraordinary book"
    What made the experience of listening to Nothing to Envy the most enjoyable?

    Please do not stop listening to this book if you are put off by the narrator's unusual style or when listening to the "sample". What is in the book overshadows that aspect and in fact as I look back, it "fits" and compliments the realism of the story of a different culture and would have not been as powerful if it had been narrated in a more theatrical dialogue that we are used to hearing. I was amazed that during this time, we in the US had so little understanding of the magnitude of the problems in North Korea. This book gives a valuable insight into the culture of North Korea and helps understand the issues in the present day North Korea.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    As I said above, the narrative style of Karen when reading the book at first seemed a bit flat and lacking but did suit the characters, time and story. As I said, I had a hard time with it at first but this faded away and seems to fit the story.


    Have you listened to any of Karen White’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No - I have not


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    There were so many. The revelations about what the world was like for North Koreans seemed as if I was transported to 200+ years earlier. Hard to fathom that this was happening at the same time where we in the US were using smartphones, WiFi and high speed internet.


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danny L Los Angeles, California 08-31-14
    Danny L Los Angeles, California 08-31-14 Member Since 2017
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    "OUTSTANDING"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I held off on reading this for a while as I thought it would be "personal stories" which would not be interesting. I was very wrong - this ordinary Koreans are anything but ordinary! If you want to learn more about N. Korea this is the book for you. Outstanding.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Abington, PA, United States 06-15-14
    Elizabeth Abington, PA, United States 06-15-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Powerful and gripping, most highly recommended!"

    If you are interested in the millions of people suffering in North Korea, this is a very informative and personalized look at individual lives in a nightmarish reality. It is beautifully written and narrated and allows us to see life in North Korea on a personalized, individual level. We need to pray constantly for these people and their day by day suffering.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S Jones 03-15-14
    S Jones 03-15-14
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    Performance
    Story
    "Eery, Interesting and Heartbreaking"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that the book followed not only the actions and explained what day to day life is like in North Korea but also the mindset, growing feelings, thoughts and rationalizations as they creeped into the lives of the people in the book. I could see, smell and truly visualize what it must be like to live in North Korea.


    Have you listened to any of Karen White’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't heard Karen White before, I don't think. She takes getting used to. I wasn't a fan at the beginning of the book but by the end, I felt her halting, pausing style fit with the nature and mood of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I was in a high demand religious group (aka "cult") for about 10 years and totally related to the reverence required, the inability to question authority, spying of fellow members and many other aspects of the lives of these people. I related to the few who admitted they would consider going back and missed aspects of life in North Korea. I'll never go back and was never doubtful about my choice to leave the group, but I could see how someone raised in that culture could be very insecure with the ability to make your own choices and the responsibility that comes with the freedom to make those choices.

    This book was very enlightening, heartbreaking and an excellent glimpse into lives of people so difficult to know anything about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SJL Albuquerque, NM USA 02-03-14
    SJL Albuquerque, NM USA 02-03-14 Member Since 2015

    SJ Yeocero

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    "Fascinating, Informative, & Entertaining"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. The author gives an informative, entertaining, and thorough view of North Korea through the stories of real North Koreans. By using the stories of real North Koreans, the author can trace the history of modern North Korea in a way that's entertaining & human without being didactic.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrator was very good. Her reading was lively and felt true to the source material.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly FORT WORTH, TX, United States 01-29-14
    Kelly FORT WORTH, TX, United States 01-29-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Bucket full of crazy"

    I am a fan of David Sedaris, so at a recent reading he encouraged fans to check this one out. Very good advice! As you listen to this one, it's almost surreal that as advanced as our society has gotten, there are still people like this in charge of the lives of human beings. It also make you wonder what is going through Dennis Rodman's head to befriend people like this. Next time you hear someone complain about their "first world" problems, point them in the direction of this book. It is truly eye opening. The author did an amazing job at mapping out the lives of the chosen few and, as a reader, I felt like I was living in the shoes of these poor souls and couldn't wait to get to the end to see how it all ended. The narrator also did an outstanding job giving a voice to this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 01-08-14
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    "Engrossing. If you can't decide, you should hear"
    What did you love best about Nothing to Envy?

    The stories, and the way they are told, are gripping, suspenseful. I am not very emotional, but I teared up multiple times.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It crawled under my skin, and told me about a country that I intellectually knew existed, but never really thought about, until I had nightmares that I and my family were among them. It was that kind of book.


    Which character – as performed by Karen White – was your favorite?

    All


    If you could give Nothing to Envy a new subtitle, what would it be?

    The dark side of the coin


    Any additional comments?

    Wow, listen. And then re-listen. As soon as I finished this book, I restarted it to listen a second time in case there was anything I missed while I lived my day to day life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jesse Palm beach, FL, United States 10-29-13
    Jesse Palm beach, FL, United States 10-29-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great insight into a secret and horrifying world"

    Nothing to Envy provides the reader with insight into the opressive regime that controls North Korea and how the individual and family unit has been affected. A true cautionary tale of what happens inside a totalitarian regime and why it is so difficult to change.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shannon victoria, BC, Canada 09-26-13
    shannon victoria, BC, Canada 09-26-13
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    "Read it"
    What made the experience of listening to Nothing to Envy the most enjoyable?

    It was an informative and interesting look into a world much different than our own


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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