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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 (2556 )
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  •  
    Kevin 09-01-17
    Kevin 09-01-17 Member Since 2017
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    "accurate detailed loves of North Koreans"

    I was looking for a book that would give me a realistic perspective of the "hermit kingdom" and this book was perfect at capturing it. its difficult to try to understand north korea through statistics or the news due to how much is truly unknown about the country from the outside. This book was composed of interviews with deserters, which is the only true way to get a realistic understanding of such a closed country.

    I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding North Korea.

    Most valuable lessons:
    1. The people are truly starving worse than most African Countries.

    2. The people know their government is full of it, but they just have to keep going along with it so they don't get sent to hard labor camps.

    3. Their citizens are just people. just like everyone else. They are trying to take care of their families and survive.

    4. Capitalism can't be stopped, their government failing at providing food for their citizens, gave birth to a black market just like in all other communist countries. The black market is the start of capitalism and proved to feed the people better than communism.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie 08-06-17
    Katie 08-06-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Great book, horrible narrator"

    I am halfway through this book, and would love to finish it quickly, but I am constantly distracted by the breaths of the reader. I am not a professional speaker, but I genuinely believe that I could do a better job than this. Her voice is pleasant but the deep breath then she text in the middle of every sentence is driving me insane.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CindyLeu 12-15-16
    CindyLeu 12-15-16
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    "Great listen"

    Educational and enjoyable. Makes me appreciate my freedom. All Americans should read this book. It might make us get along better and appreciate what we have.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    msrae 10-09-17
    msrae 10-09-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Nothing to compare to nothing to envy"

    So sad, informative and fantastic. I have nothing else to compare it to, but I was curious and was not disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ruby 10-09-17
    ruby 10-09-17 Member Since 2017
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    "I could not stop listening"

    I almost became depressed at the conclusion of the book, almost heartbrokem over the lives of the people still live in North Korea. l can only imagine that the defectors experienced survivors guilt because of the never ending cycle of suffering the North Koreans have endured.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Love CLEARFIELD, UT, United States 09-21-17
    Jonathan Love CLEARFIELD, UT, United States 09-21-17 Member Since 2016
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    "The Non-Fiction Version of 1984"

    Throughout the book I was constantly saying to myself that the totalitarianism environment of North Korea (nK) was just like that described by George Orwell in, 1984. My feelings were validated toward the end of the book when one of the defectors from nK - who had found Orwell's prophetic masterpiece - was so surprised as the vivid detail of that dystopia paralleling that of his homeland.

    Prior to this book, I had read, This Kind of War, by T.R. Fehrenbach, and Act of War, by Jack Cheevers (both giving me a glimpse into nK life and barbarism), but it was Demick's Nothing to Envy that really portrayed the plight of the people living under the brutal regime, their fundamental misunderstanding of all life outside of nK, and their inculcated resentment toward the US and South Korea. It's funny how this last bastion of Socialism is so iconic of the full embrace of the ideology, but people throughout the world still believe it an ideal form of government.

    I highly recommend this book as we are on the precipice of another war. The Soldiers who'll be intimately involved with the reunification of the nK people must understand the indoctrinated, ignorant, and emaciated people so they'll have compassion instead of only the quixotic American perspective of "join or die" because that won't work and we'll find ourselves in another Asian Quagmire.

    The narrator was great (I only give five stars to the truly fantastic) and I was able to listen at 3x speed without any issues. Her voice endured me to the defectors more than a male voice probably could and I truly appreciate her as the voice of Barbara Demick and the nK defectors.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Ashley 09-21-17
    Ashley 09-21-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Wonderfully eye-opening look into the hidden world of North Korea"

    Wonderfully eye-opening look into the hidden world of North Korea. The author seems to have done plenty of thorough interviews with the main characters and enough homework to create a good backdrop for their stories. The stories are told with a convincing matter-of-factness that makes them all the more astonishing.
    They also help the audience understand the political background and governmental policies that put the country at odds with the developing world today. And, importantly, the book's biographical stories help the audience feel that citizens of North Korea are still human.

    This book's narrator is easy to listen to and doesn't get in the way of the book's narrative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flavia Bisi 09-19-17
    Flavia Bisi 09-19-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Information and reader."

    Interesting book with important insights about daily life in North Korea. I did not however enjoy the reader. Not a very engaging voice to listen too n

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    adamsmith1221 09-18-17
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    "unnecessary explicit language was included"

    The book included unnecessary explicit language that really didn't add to the story and could have easily been avoided

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Andrew M Toronto, Ontario, Canada 09-11-17
    Andrew M Toronto, Ontario, Canada 09-11-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Great stories and insight into NK life"

    Great stories of people that lived in North Korea and how they survive and eventually left the country. The narrator could have read at a better pace. Felt that she was extremely slow. Still worth a listen. Highly recommend this audiobook!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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