A terrifying story of brutal captivity and unremitting misery and the difficult adjustment to subsequent life in a very...

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ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14

ONE MAN'S REMARKABLE ODYSSEY FROM NORTH KOREA TO FREEDOM IN THE WEST

The chilling story of a prisoner in North Korea.

Born in Labor Camp 14, the child of political prisoners, Shin Dong-hyuk spent 23 years imprisoned, initially with his mother and other families in cramped quarters with no running water, no furniture and little soap. For protein, there were insects and rats. For a while, there was school, one without books or real education. Nothing was taught about the outside world, other than that it was peopled by enemies. At age 10 Shin began mining coal for the love of the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il. As an adolescent he was tortured viciously in an underground cell, and then taken to witness the execution of his mother and brother. He was not affected by the spectacle; he did not grieve. They had spoken of escape, and Shin had reported them. After learning from older prisoners about other lands and the foods to be had there, he planned his own escape. Through a series of improbable events, he made it to China, South Korea and then America. His spiritual journey—still in progress—has not been easy. His is one man’s remarkable story of deliverance from a hidden land where fact-checking is virtually impossible. Economist contributor Harden (A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia, 1996, etc.), nevertheless, has done his research, and Shin’s adventure largely conforms to those of the few others who have escaped captivity. The text was completed before the Dear Leader’s death. Camp 14 has been in operation for half a century, and we can only suppose that the new, baby-faced Supreme Leader will continue the legacy of the dynasty.

A terrifying story of brutal captivity and unremitting misery and the difficult adjustment to subsequent life in a very different place.

Pub Date: April 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02332-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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