Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Written by:
Barbara Demick
Narrated by:
Karen White

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
January 2010
12 hours 30 minutes
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.
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Jeremy Fisher

Eye opening. I cannot fathom eating pine back to survive.

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John P.

Depressing but engrossing. While I had an intellectual understanding of the situation in North Korea, hearing the actual stories of people there was eye-opening. Highly recommend.

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Painful story of how the oppressive totalitarian regime crushes and destroys human lives. Amazing book, mediocre narrator.

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Fascinating, well-written and narrated. a glimpse into a hidden world and an uncomfortable reminder of how easily and thoroughly a country can fall apart

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Kathleen L.

This book provides a fascinating look into the lives of everyday people under North Korea’s repressive regime. If you are a history buff this book maybe just the read for you. The narrator was great too.

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Francoise H.

very good book

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Renee W.

This was an amazing read. It is almost like a real life 1984. This book provides great insight into the life of average person living in North Korea.

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Shannon E

Given our current issues with North Korea it was so interesting and a bit of wake-up call to read the stories of what day to day life was and is like for those living under the regime. It's amazing how much I thought I knew and how much more there is to the story of North Korea.

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