Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

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Spiegel & Grau, 2009 - History - 314 pages
85 Reviews
A National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle finalist, Barbara Demick’sNothing to Envyis a remarkable view into North Korea, as seen through the lives of six ordinary citizens
Nothing to Envyfollows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, 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 most of us have never before seen, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. 

Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects—average North Korean citizens—fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them. 

Nothing to Envyis a groundbreaking addition to the literature of totalitarianism and an eye-opening look at a closed world that is of increasing global importance.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Carolee888 - LibraryThing

Barbara Demick interviewed about 100 North Korean defectors and made nine trips to North Korea between 2001 and 2008. Her notes in the back of the book give a glimpse of the tremendous amount of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gayla.bassham - LibraryThing

This book was recently shortlisted for a National Book Award, and Demick totally deserves to win for her meticulous reporting on six North Korean defectors to South Korea. I didn't realize how little ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Barbara Demickis the Beijing bureau chief of theLos Angeles Times.Her reporting on North Korea won the Overseas Press Club's award for human rights reporting as well as awards from the Asia Society and the American Academy of Diplomacy. Her coverage of Sarajevo forThe Philadelphia Inquirerwon the George Polk Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting. Her previous book isLogavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood.

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