Stuart's Reviews > Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
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's review
Feb 07, 2010

it was amazing
Read in January, 2010

There are few books like this written today: concise, well-researched, plainly yet effectively written, and free of hyperbole. This book is a very personal account of six lives in the failed state of North Korea. The level of deprivation and humiliation these people endure is heartbreaking. The book reads more like an outstanding piece of social anthropology than it does cut and dried journalism. The author is to be commended for her ability to get inside both the hearts and minds of the people she has interviewed.

I think that Nothing To Envy is a landmark book, a study of a culture and political system gone horribly wrong, that will be read for decades. As the author notes, North Korea is the last of its kind, a state with an entrenched despotic, supposedly Marxist, leader who denies not only basic freedoms but also the basic provisions necessary to maintain any quality of life. Reading this book in the comfort of my own well heated home, I felt both pity for those that live in North Korea and anger for the inability of the rest of the world to do anything while North Korea's citizens starve to death. The impact of this book is both emotional and intellectual. I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned about the social welfare of people and the role that government plays in people's lives.
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02/07/2016 marked as: read

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