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4.8 out of 5 stars
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2013
I wish we could help them somehow! A VERY interesting read - and currently so relevant (as they point their weapons in our direction...) The author introduces us to several families and we get to know their struggles well. Most shocking: these events occurred while I was growing up safe and snug in Canada and worrying about hairstyles and home decor! The author cleverly weaves their stories seamlessly with the politics of the country and of the rest of the world in recent history - often jolting me to awareness with such recent dates that I only associated with things such as college in the 90's, my first job - all my glorious freedom to worry about stupid things.

At times the book reads like a spy thriller full of danger and betrayal; At other times, like a tragic romance novel. The many details about everyday life and human ingenuity give light to shocking insight into human behavior (read "Life of Pi" before we judge the survival instinct), social structure, abusive government control, and systemic abuse. Difficult to read at times, but SO rewarding (a great book to toss at any discontented teenager for a quick lesson in gratitude for what we have and what we have the responsibility to protect). Makes me want to re-read V. Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning".

And by the way: is anybody going to do anything about this? I thought we cared about human rights...I guess it's too bad there isn't any oil in North Korea or we'd have beaten the Russians there and prevented this whole mess. *despondently rolling my eyes*
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
I read it in one day and could not put it down. What a great storyteller. It could have been dry like some other books I have read about North Korea but she made all these people come alive and I found myself rooting for these defectors and I do hope that they found happiness in South Korea or elsewhere. I'm only sorry that I read it so fast rather than a little a day to make it last!
Normand Shearer, Waterloo, Québec, Canada
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2012
Demick documents the before and after-defection lives of 6 former North Koreans who tried to exist in that unbelievably cruel and twisted regime. Some people in that country continue to believe the propoganda and many still do not know that options are indeed available to them across the barbed wire borders!
I read this after reading Escape from Camp 14; now I have a much better understanding of what has been going on in that country.
Good reads.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2013
Excellent book; I read it together with The Orphan Master's Son (novel), and the two of these paint a pretty awful picture of NK.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2013
Very thought provoking as North Korea is not a place that one hears about often. Ms. Demick portrays the lives of several people in-depth and very human. It is hard to believe the lengths to which the North Korean government tyrannizes its people. Eye-opening to say the least.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2012
Was looking for something that would give me a feel for life in North Korea. This book really delivered. Very well researched, complete (I think) and objective.
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on February 10, 2014
This book covers recent North Korean history in a factual, objective way, and personal stories by North Korean defectors at the same time. It makes the book very readable, and gives some important incites on this very different place called North Korean.
Great for anyone who wants to broaden their horizons and get more familiar with different places in the world.
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on February 1, 2015
I never realized how hard the lives of North Koreans were until I read this book. I couldn't believe how much their lives were controlled by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Un. I love the first person accounts the author weaves into the history of Korea. The love and lives lost makes you want to cry while reading this.
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on December 2, 2013
This book reads like a novel. It offers a GREAT insight into life in North Korea back in the 1990s and today. I would love to get an update on the six featured North Koreans in the book. Demick writes with a perfect balance of journalism and narrative.
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on January 24, 2015
Interviews with North Korean defectors provide insight on the lives and tragedies experienced by ordinary North Koreans living under the Kim regimes. Both harrowing and inspiring.
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