Escape from Camp 14: Book summary and reviews of Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

Escape from Camp 14

One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

By Blaine Harden

Escape from Camp 14
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2012,
    224 pages.

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Book Summary

The shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived.

North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Dong-hyuk did.

In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin's life unlocks the secrets of the world's most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden's harrowing narrative of Shin's life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world's darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Harden notes both the difficulty of obtaining information about daily existence in North Korea and of fact-checking such information (including Shin's own version of events), and the book's brevity may leave readers wanting more from this brisk, brutal, sorrowful read." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Readers learn of Shin's gradual discovery of the world at large, non-adversarial human relationships, literature, and hope - and the struggles ahead. A book that all adults should read." - Library Journal

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

"This is a story unlike any other... More so than any other book on North Korea, including my own, Escape from Camp 14 exposes the cruelty that is the underpinning of Kim Jong Il's regime. Blaine Harden, a veteran foreign correspondent from The Washington Post, tells this story masterfully... The integrity of this book shines through on every page." - Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

"If you have a soul, you will be changed forever by Blaine Harden's Escape from Camp 14... Harden masterfully allows us to know Shin, not as a giant but as a man, struggling to understand what was done to him and what he was forced to do to survive. By doing so, Escape from Camp 14 stands as a searing indictment of a depraved regime and a tribute to all those who cling to their humanity in the face of evil." - Mitchell Zuckoff, New York Times bestselling author of Lost in Shangri-La

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Blaine Harden is a contributor to the Economist and has formerly served as the Washington Post's bureau chief in East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. He is the author of Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent and A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia. He lives in Seattle, Washington. Visit him online at www.blaineharden.com.

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