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A National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle finalist, Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy is a remarkable view into North Korea, as seen through the lives of six ordinary citizens
Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, 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 most of us have never before seen, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. 

Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects—average North Korean citizens—fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them. 

Nothing to Envy is a groundbreaking addition to the literature of totalitarianism and an eye-opening look at a closed world that is of increasing global importance.

From the Hardcover edition.

Book Reviews

Nothing to Envy
Average rating
4.6 / 5
Vivid, human portraits of life in North Korea
November 3rd, 2014
I really responded to the romance in this book, as it traces the lives of 6 North Koreans, including 2 who separately defected and reunited on the outside, with a result that surprised both of them. Highly, highly recommended.
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1 review
March 6th, 2014
How many ways can I say that? This book is shocking and sad and hopeful and beautiful and the best I've read this year. I could not put it down!
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1 review
Excellent book
February 15th, 2014
Highly recommended. It gripped me. I couldn't put it down.
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1 review
Very interesting book
January 2nd, 2014
The book is written in a friendly language. It is about the lives of the NK defectors, about their great life changes and courage, thier family loss... Advise it to read.
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1 review
Nothing to envy rings true
April 8th, 2013
More assessable than Under the loving care of the fatherly leader which at times I found a little salacious. Demick does not allow her voice intrude on her subjects. Their stories, while unverifiable, are coherent and believable if shocking.
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1 review

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