Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Front Cover
Spiegel & Grau, 2009 - History - 314 pages
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  - tshrope - LibraryThing

Wow, what an eye-opening book this was! It’s no wonder that I don’t know much about North Korea, it doesn’t seem like much information gets in or out of this locked- down country. It is truly amazing ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - arubabookwoman - LibraryThing

In this book, Demick immerses us in what it was like to grow up, live in and escape from North Korea. She does this by portraying the lives of six individuals and their families in the 1990's and 2000 ... Read full review

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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