Nothing to Envy

  • by Barbara Demick
  • Narrated by Karen White
  • 12 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over 15 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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What the Critics Say

"A fascinating and deeply personal look at the lives of six defectors from the repressive totalitarian regime of the Republic of North Korea." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The man who wants to be GOD

The author does an excellent job telling the tales of her protagonists wrapped in the totalitarian govt. The most shocking part of the book is when you hear about the measures that this imbecile leader takes to prove that he is GOD when he is not even human.

The things that people around the world take for granted are shown as luxuries in N Korea and sometimes unachievable for a regular citizen. At times, this book can be depressing but it is very informative and educational. The history of Koreas and the past, present of N Korea is very well described in this book.

The narrator was a little annoying at first with her breathing right in the mic. But I got used to it few hours in the book. This book is just too good so I didn't realize after a while how bad the narrator was. But Audible should really audition narrators before they are hired for the job.
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- Gohar "I enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, non-fiction, historical fiction genres. Liked Hyperion, Stormlight, Mistborn, GoT. Last read: Born a crime"

An excellent listen!

I'm not sure why I downloaded Nothing to Envy in the first place, but I am certainly glad I did. This book was enthralling and endlessly interesting. I have a picture in my mind of life in North Korea that has stuck with me. The author weaves stories together in a way that is complex without being confusing. Well worth the 12 hours - I was sorry when it ended.
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- Laura

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-29-2009
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio