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Short Synopsis
A gripping, astounding view into North Korea through the lives of six ordinary citizens—an important story that has never been told before.

Full Synopsis
Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung and 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 never before seen, Demick brings to life what it means to be an average Korean citizen, living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, a country that is by choice not connected to the Internet, a society in which outward displays of affection are punished, and a police state that rewards informants and where an offhanded remark can send a citizen to the gulag for life.

Demick's subjects—a middle-aged party loyalist and her rebellious daughter, an idealistic female doctor, an orphan, and two young lovers—all hail from the same provincial city in the farthest-flung northern reaches of the country. One by one, we witness the moments of revelation, when each realizes that they have been betrayed by the Fatherland and that their suffering is not a global condition but is uniquely theirs.

Nothing to Envy is the first book about North Korea to go deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and penetrate the mind-set of the average citizen. It is a groundbreaking and essential addition to the literature of totalitarianism.

"Strongly written and gracefully structured...[Demick] vividly and evocatively portrays courageous individuals and a tyrannized state within a saga of unfathomable suffering punctuated by faint glimmers of hope." ---Booklist Starred Review

"Narrator Karen White is engaging.... This is an eye-opening and heartbreaking listen." ---AudioFile

"[Demick] takes us inside the minds of her subjects, rendering them as complex, often compelling characters---not the brainwashed parodies we see marching in unison in TV reports." ---Philadelphia Inquirer

"A fascinating and deeply personal look at the lives of six defectors from the repressive totalitarian regime of the Republic of North Korea." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"Meticulous reporting reveals life in a country that tries hard to keep its citizens walled in and the rest of the world out." ---Kirkus

"Life stories form a welcome portrait of "ordinary" lives in an extraordinary society." ---Library Journal

"Karen White delivers a stunning reading.... An unforgettable listening experience that will resonate long after the final sentence." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Audio Review

"Demick has written a deeply moving book." ---The Wall Street Journal

"Demick exhibits in gut-wrenching detail the struggle for survival that North Koreans face. This makes Nothing to Envy a fresh contribution to a tired topic." ---The Christian Science Monitor

"A highly believable account that can serve as an excellent introduction to North Korea for general readers even as it adds to the insights available to specialists." ---San Francisco Chronicle
Washington Post Bestseller

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National Book Foundation Bestseller

Booklist Review

Publishers Weekly Review

Publishers Weekly Audio

Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Nothing to Envy

Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Author Barbara Demick

Narrated by Karen White

Publication date Jan 6, 2010

Running time 13 hrs

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