An unflinching examination of North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear power and its implications for the rest of the world.

KIM JONG UN AND THE BOMB

SURVIVAL AND DETERRENCE IN NORTH KOREA

A full-length look at the history and strategic implications of North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Panda, a senior editor at the Diplomat, traces the Korean quest for the bomb to Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, under whom the country built its first nuclear reactor in 1963. By 1985, the elder Kim had made enough progress that the Soviet Union pressured him into joining the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. But with the U.S. having tactical weapons deployed in South Korea to offset the conventional military superiority of the North, Kim Il Sung had every incentive to continue working to acquire his own nuclear weapons. By the early 1990s, the CIA concluded that North Korea had generated enough weapons-grade plutonium for one or two bombs. The process of building a working bomb continued with help from A.Q. Khan of Pakistan—until, in 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. Since then, it has continued to conduct tests and to build delivery systems culminating in ballistic missiles able to deliver a bomb to the continental U.S. Panda gives a detailed, sometimes plodding account of each of the phases of this process, with attention not only to Korea’s actions, but to U.S. and international responses. An entire chapter looks at the back and forth between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump since 2017 while the final chapter examines the long-range implications of Korea’s emergence as a nuclear power. The book is especially valuable as a correction to the usual Western view of Kim Jong Un, in that the author shows the strategic and political logic behind his moves without ignoring his ruthless consolidation of power. Asia policy wonks, take note.

An unflinching examination of North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear power and its implications for the rest of the world.

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-006036-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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