Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nothing to Envy - Book Review

BookNothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
AuthorBarbara Demick
Genre: Nonfiction / Politics & Social Sciences 
Publisher/Publish Date: Spiegel & Grau / December, 2009
Source: Audio Book from SF Public Library
Pages: 314
Rating: 2/5
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I got this book from the library based on reviews I read (it has 358 5-star reviews on Amazon), but I wasn't that impressed with it. This book was a good look at North Korean lives and cultures through the lens of six citizens over 15 years, through the rough period surrounding Kim Il-sung's death, and the famine of the mid-90s. Demick mixes stories from the small villages with that of life in the capitol city of Pyongyang, providing a thorough over view of how life was different depending on your political and social standing.

I was surprised how many historical events I didn't really know, and this book was good with facts. I have read other books about North Korea in which I've felt connected with the people and more concerned with their welfare. Where I think it hit some bumps, was the quantities of lives it was following. Some of this may have been due to listening to it, since I don't think I can follow a book as well on tape as I can on paper. And though it says a person read it, at times it sounded like a computer reading the book. The one benefit of the audiobook, I know how to pronounce all the names of people and places.

For me this was a good addition to the other books I have read on this topic, but not that great as a stand alone.

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