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 sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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