Nothing To Envy

Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Written by: Barbara Demick
Narrated by: Karen White
Originally Reviewed: 09-21-17 on audible.com
Rating: 1 – All should read to understand what North Korea really is

The Non-Fiction Version of 1984

Throughout the book I was constantly saying to myself that the totalitarianism environment of North Korea (nK) was just like that described by George Orwell in, 1984. My feelings were validated toward the end of the book when one of the defectors from nK – who had found Orwell’s prophetic masterpiece – was so surprised as the vivid detail of that dystopia paralleling that of his homeland.

Prior to this book, I had read, This Kind of War, by T.R. Fehrenbach, and Act of War, by Jack Cheevers (both giving me a glimpse into nK life and barbarism), but it was Demick’s Nothing to Envy that really portrayed the plight of the people living under the brutal regime, their fundamental misunderstanding of all life outside of nK, and their inculcated resentment toward the US and South Korea. It’s funny how this last bastion of Socialism is so iconic of the full embrace of the ideology, but people throughout the world still believe it an ideal form of government.

I highly recommend this book as we are on the precipice of another war. The Soldiers who’ll be intimately involved with the reunification of the nK people must understand the indoctrinated, ignorant, and emaciated people so they’ll have compassion instead of only the quixotic American perspective of “join or die” because that won’t work and we’ll find ourselves in another Asian Quagmire.

The narrator was great (I only give five stars to the truly fantastic) and I was able to listen at 3x speed without any issues. Her voice endured me to the defectors more than a male voice probably could and I truly appreciate her as the voice of Barbara Demick and the nK defectors.



Other works for consideration:
1. This Kind of War, by T.R. Fehrenbach
2. Act of War, by Jack Cheevers
3. East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950, by Roy E. Appleman

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