Mo Shah's Reviews > Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
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May 14, 2012

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I'm split on this book.

On one hand, the subject matter is utterly compelling. Little is heard in mainstream media about these detention camps that hundreds of thousands of prisoners live in for (literally) generations. Entire Families are doomed because of the real or imagined actions of one, and apparently treason must be wiped out over three generations. So children are born in these camps between assigned parents and never learn filial love or even learn any emotional state higher than the animal need for basic survival.

But the writing is somewhat frustrating.The facts are recited and researched well enough, but the way the story is told gets in the way of having more impact. Interspersed within the personal story of Shin the author throws in history and sidebar. Useful for context, I suppose, but it takes away from the powerful personal nature of the story. It's akin to reading the Diary of Anne Frank but having a narrator interrupt with voiceover explanation. And ultimately, it does a disservice to the obvious need for the world at large to become more personally outraged as to what's going on over there.

I suspect the author is right when he says that sometime in our future our children will be asking us why the rest of the world didn't do more to intervene with what was going on inside North Korea. I'm not entirely sure what I'd tell them.

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04/19/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Mpho3 I felt exactly the same way - compelling subject that needs to be shared but the writing style did not work for me at all.


Hollyn Good review--I agree.


Sofia Agree and feel the same way about the book.


Alessandro Chirchiglia Agree. He should have just told his story. Maybe in first person, like Open by Agassi.


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