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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North…
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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Barbara Demick

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1,8651263,706 (4.41)400
Member:tututhefirst
Title:Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
Authors:Barbara Demick
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, Audio books, Read but unowned
Rating:****1/2
Tags:HM12

Work details

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (2009)

  1. 72
    Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle (lorax)
    lorax: Pyongyang is an outsider's view of the one part of the country where foreigners are generally permitted; Nothing to Envy is an inside look at ordinary life elsewhere in the country where the situation is even grimmer.
  2. 20
    Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad by Melanie Kirkpatrick (TomWaitsTables)
  3. 20
    Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Stbalbach, rebeccanyc)
    Stbalbach: Amazing story of escape from a North Korea prison camp.
    rebeccanyc: Demick's book explores the lives of several people who lived in and escaped from North Korea, while Harden's focuses on one individual who was born in and escaped from a North Korean slave labor camp. The two books complement each other.
  4. 10
    Without you, there is no us by Suki Kim (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both books are compelling, fascinating reads. Nothing to Envy covers a broad scope, and Without You, There is No Us has a tight focus. They explore the North Korean regime from different angles.
  5. 10
    Kim Il-song's North Korea by Helen-Louise Hunter (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Credited in Nothing To Envy as one of the sources of info about DPRK.
  6. 00
    Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and Beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal by Geoff Childs (meggyweg)
  7. 00
    This is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood by Hyok Kang (justine28)
    justine28: This is Paradise is a first-hand account of North Korean regime and especially the 1990s famine as experienced by a defector. Very similar to the stories gathered by Demick - a journalist. The two books complement each other.
  8. 03
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (weener)
    weener: One is fiction, one is non-fiction. One is in Latin America, one is in Asia. Both are heartbreaking, deeply affecting tales of life under totalitarianism.
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» See also 400 mentions

English (124)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
I started reading this book as a buddy read with a Goodreads friend, but she decided it wasn’t the right book at the right time for her, so I continued on alone, grateful that it had been her suggestion and I got it off my to read shelf, and I’m so glad that I did.

There is a helpful map and I love maps in books, though I wish it had been even more heavily labeled as many places were mentioned didn’t appear on it. I also appreciated the photos. Each chapter started with one photo, though I wish that that many more photos were included. Why there are so relatively few is certainly understandable though.

I found it helpful to read the notes for chapters that are at the end of the book as soon as I read their corresponding chapters. They’re not long and I think that there is great benefit to reading them when the chapters’ contents are still fresh in the reader’s mind.

While I wanted more, more people and more updates on each person and more information, it’s just because what’s there is so good.

When I read books such as this I go back and look at what I was doing, eating, etc. during the periods and on the days mentioned. (I have schedule books going back to 1977.) I’m always stunned to read what some people have gone through during my lifetime, and unfortunately that includes now.

Somehow this feels like a perfectly crafted book. It’s non-fiction that reads like fiction, so much so that a few times I caught myself thinking something such as oh that’s too bad but it is realistic, and then realizing of course it’s realistic because these are real people’s real stories. The reader really gets to really know the six main people and gets a clear sense of how it was for others mentioned and also for the general populace.

While a tremendously upsetting account, it helped me to know that the six people focused on had all gotten out of North Korea (though it’s impossible to not think about the people still there or who were stuck there and are likely dead and those who did die) but these are brave and strong people, and there was some humor, and the storytelling was so riveting, that despite the horrors, it wasn’t exactly a exactly a depressing book, though there were plenty of heartbreaking events I will likely always remember. I felt a lot of suspense wondering how people were going to manage to escape. The way their stories were told did not disappoint.

This is an excellent book. I had none of my usual contemplating whether it should be 4 or 5 stars or whether I needed to include a half star. 5 stars it was, and I knew that most of the way through. It would have had to go way downhill for me to give it anything other than 5 stars and that never happened. Top notch! Very hard to put down! It’s a true page-turner and always engaging. Very well researched. It didn’t improve my mood about people or governments though, including the North Korean and also my own United States government. I already knew a few things about how things were in North Korea, but I learned so much more about the country, and while much of what was described was highly disturbing it was also fascinating. It helped that for the most part the people were likeable and at least relatable, even with the cultural differences and often experiences vastly different from anything I’ve experienced.

I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. The author’s other book also looks intriguing. She certainly chooses interesting and challenging topics. I’m eager to see what she will write next. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Jul 26, 2016 |
I purchased this book as part of my International Relations Masters program. The book is a fascinating insight into the lives and troubles of North Koreans and was one "textbook" I simply could not put down. ( )
  DarrenHarrison | Jul 21, 2016 |
Gave an amazing picture of lives in North Korea, what happened there, and the shock of finding you've been lied to your entire life. It also highlighted something I had never considered–South Korean aversion to NK refugees.

This should be a standard in any modern history or political science class. ( )
  chronoceros | Jul 15, 2016 |
I liked very much the book. Specially the fact that the writer put normal persons in normal situation to show everyday life in North Korea. The only point that could have made this book even better would be a more deep description about the Kim dynasty. ( )
  palu | Jul 9, 2016 |
Wow, what an interesting book!
About North Korea I knew the well known stuff all peopke know. That it is still ridicilously clinging on to communism, that it is sealed off, that people have a harsh life there.
But these portraits of ordinary citizens speak loudly and clearly.
A book that has impressed me greatly. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Jul 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
Barbara Demick's book Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea opens with a nighttime satellite image of northeast Asia that shows the bright lights of South Korea and China. In the middle of the photograph is a dark spot — a nation of 23 million people that has little electricity.
added by bongiovi | editNPR (Jan 6, 2010)
 
Nothing to Envy – the title comes from a piece of propaganda aimed at hoodwinking gullible North Korean citizens – is a fascinating work which highlights in the lives of the individuals concerned the triumph of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity.
 
Elegantly structured and written, Nothing To Envy is a groundbreaking work of literary nonfiction.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Nicholas, Gladys, & Eugene
First words
If you look at satellite photographs of the far east by night, you'll see a large splotch curiously lacking in light.
Quotations
[...] she couldn't deny what was staring her plainly in the face: dogs in China ate better than doctors in North Korea.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
'Im Land des Flüsterns' ist eine ergänzte Neuauflage von 'Die Kinogänger von Chongjin'
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385523912, Paperback)

A National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle finalist, Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy is a remarkable view into North Korea, as seen through the lives of six ordinary citizens
 
Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. 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, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and 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, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years, a chaotic period that saw the rise to power of Kim Jong Il and the devastation of a famine that killed one-fifth of the population, illustrating what it means to live under the most repressive totalitarian regime today.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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