A courageous and inspiring memoir.



A college student tells the story of how he survived an unimaginably difficult childhood and adolescence growing up in North Korea.

Until he was 5 years old, Kim lived happily with his parents and beloved older sister, Bong Sook, in Hoeryong, a city famous for “its white apricots, its beautiful women, and for having the best pottery clay in North Korea.” But when a devastating famine arrived in 1995, everything changed. Kim’s family became one of millions reduced to abject poverty. Like so many others, they were forced to beg for food from strangers or from relatives who barely had enough for themselves. His mother was the first to feel the effects of the famine, and the “dark energy” that sometimes emanated from her even during the best of times returned. Kim’s cheerful father also fell victim to despair, lingering illness, and eventually death. Desperate for money, Kim’s mother took his sister to China, where she made illegal deals and sold her into domestic slavery. Kim ended up on the street, a homeless boy fighting to survive on whatever he could beg or steal from others who were suffering almost as much as he was. Eventually, he was captured by authorities and placed in a detention center for homeless children that doubled as a forced labor camp. Constantly in search of stability and food, the now-teenage Kim left the camp and went in search of his mother and other relatives. Unable to endure his nightmarish existence, he crossed into China, where an elderly Christian woman helped him find the path that led him to a fresh start in the United States. Told with poise and dignity, Kim’s story, co-authored by Talty (Hangman, 2014, etc.), provides vivid documentation of a remarkable life. It also offers an important account of atrocities committed within North Korea that have been hidden from the West—and indeed, most of the rest of the world.

A courageous and inspiring memoir.

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-37317-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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


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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