Escape from Camp 14 - Blaine Harden

Escape from Camp 14

By Blaine Harden

  • Release Date: 2012-03-29
  • Genre: Asia
Escape from Camp 14 book review score

4.5 Score: 4.5 (From 1,655 Ratings)

Escape from Camp 14 Blaine Harden Book Review Score: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars

With a New Foreword

The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped. Blaine Harden's latest book, King of Spies, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.

North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.

In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. 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 mother and brother.

The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.

Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.

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User reviews about this book

  • Great and Fascinating Book!

    By aust1nskik
    This book makes me wonder if South Koreans were to walk through the camps of the North much like the Germans had to at the end of WWII, would they be moved to action.
  • A searing story of an escape, and a rare look into the gulags of North Korea

    By groupeone
    Much of what we know about the hermit kingdom that is North Korea comes from press reports. Many speculate because of the lack of insightful information about their dictatorship and closed society. Escape from Camp 14 breaks past the electrified barbed wire and offers a painful look into the horrifying world of the North Korean gulag told by one of two people ever to escape. Along with Man's Search for Meaning, Escape from Camp 14 offers an understanding of life (if you want to call it that) in a concentration camp. It does not make for pleasant reading. But this book offers an understand g of the darkest recesses of the world, and shows the cruelty that sadistic humans can inflict.
  • Couldn't Stop

    By RivitedReader
    I read this book in three days. What a riveting story and invaluable introspection into the human psyche - which we all share under the right circumstances. I count my blessings for my life fur but for the Grace of God go I.
  • Read It

    By Tripperstack
    This was eye-opening to the craziness that people are forced endure. There was never a boring moment and it was quite an easy and fluid read.
  • Everyone Should Read This

    By CitizenThane
    This book is more than heartbreaking, it's not just a sad story. It's a real story chronicling the painful life of Shin, a man born into a North Korean kwalliso, a prison camp. It goes into detail about the horrors he went through. For anybody who wants to know about what's going on in North Korea, this and the book Nothing To Envy. Don't even waste your time with that stupid movie The Interview.
  • A fantastic read

    By chris38481629495
    This book was an utterly amazing read. Giving people a gruesome insight of the world that surrounds them.
  • Great book!!

    By Scesso
    This book makes you understand life about North Korean prison camps for both guards and prisoners. The book paints a picture about life in North Korea that many don't know about
  • Escape from Camp 14

    By mharp85
    I was able to read this book in one sitting and I really enjoyed it. Its tough to completely understand what he went through and how terrible the north Koreans really are. Its a shame that the world allows a country to get away with the same crimes as the Nazi’s during WWII. Shin’s story is one of few who have escaped to talk about the crimes committed and the journey it takes to escape the hell hole of north Korea. It’s sad that only in north Korea could a prison camp (concentration camp) escapee blind into the local population so well. I would recommend this book to everyone.
  • Eye opening

    I read this book after I finished Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demrick. It is a tale of incredible survival against all odds. Shin is a heroic human and unbelievably lucky. The story is a glimpse into a COMPLETELY different world and mindset than the American way. I appreciate also how the author gave sufficient background and historical reference information to help the reader understand the context of the story. We should all be more aware of the longest standing, modern human rights tragedy of our planet. A fast read and highly recommended.
  • Too Many Issues to Address in this Review

    By KitDuluCa
    This book is receiving awesome reviews but I just can't agree. In fact, of all the reviews I have written I have never given a book one star...until now. The book has numerous inconsistencies; so many inconsistencies that I seriously begin to doubt the validity of some of its accounts. I honestly believe some of his stories are massively exaggerated or completely made up because it benefited his newfound gravy train. I say this because of the timing some of these stories came out....despite years of telling other accounts. A personal preference, but I didn't like the writing. Many parts are not in chronological order and the jumping around can confuse the reader who is putting in full effort to understand what Shin went through. It does get a bit better in this regard towards the end. The grammatical errors also left me feeling less than pleased. In several parts of the book the author takes time out to explain what is happening globally during the same time, which some reviewers have complained about citing filler. I found these parts necessary especially since North Korean life is so unknown to the world. However, the author fails to take the same time to explain more about camp life. Sure there are stories about camp life- but you never get the overview so the reader can fully grasp the situation. And while I certainly don't doubt that Shin was born/raised in a prisoner war camp, that he is a survivor in the truest since of the word, or that his life has been more horrific than I can even begin to imagine- in the end I find him unsympathetic. After all he has gone through, and after being out for a decade, he continues to fail to take responsibility for himself or his life. Because his story is so heart wrenching, he has been enabled by so many. The great kindness and sympathies of others has reduced him to the point that he still refuses to get a job, education beyond the rudimentary level, or to learn English. He truly feels that because of his "story" he should be taken care of or get rich to the point that he doesn't have to work like every other person in the world. In the end, purchasing this book further enables him because he gets half the profits. I would have no problem with this if he was half the fighter he once was but that fails to be the case.

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