Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

87%

27 Critic Reviews

But it's important to recognise the depth of misery in North Korea, not just to be aware of the horror of the Kim regime, but also to stand as a testament to the plight of a terrorised people.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped
 
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.

 

About Blaine Harden

See more books from this Author
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.
 
Published March 29, 2012 by Penguin Books. 234 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon12
Peak Rank on Apr 22 2012
icon12
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
10
Want to Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Escape from Camp 14
All: 27 | Positive: 25 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
Jan 15 2012

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

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14 | See more reviews from Kirkus

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrew Anthony on Apr 13 2012

But it's important to recognise the depth of misery in North Korea, not just to be aware of the horror of the Kim regime, but also to stand as a testament to the plight of a terrorised people.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14 | See more reviews from Guardian

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Apr 11 2012

Much of this book’s impact comes from its nonstop parade of ghastly details.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14 | See more reviews from NY Times

Wall Street Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by Melanie Kirkpatrick on Apr 05 2012

He writes in a direct, matter-of-fact style that puts the horrors he is relating in dark relief. He is equally explicit in describing Mr. Shin's difficulties in learning to succeed in a free society...

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14 | See more reviews from Wall Street Journal

Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by A. Jurek on Mar 26 2012

it is a cautionary tale about the power of ignorance and a case study in the need for basic moral values such as honesty, love, the redeeming power of true friendship—while in our postmodern age we may dismiss these as old fashioned, without them human experience becomes meaningless.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14 | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Will Wlizlo on Mar 31 2012

Harden casts a harsh light on a moral embarrassment that has existed 12 times longer than the Nazi concentration camps. Readers won't be able to forget Shin's boyish, emancipated smile -- the new face of freedom trumping repression.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14 | See more reviews from Star Tribune

The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrew Salmon on Apr 27 2012

But here is where Harden’s account excels: He neither paints Shin as a hero nor depicts his survival as a triumph of the spirit. Shin suffers brutalities and is brutalized in the process.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Terry Hong on Apr 02 2012

A book without parallel, “Escape from Camp 14” is a riveting nightmare that bears witness to the worst inhumanity, an unbearable tragedy magnified by the fact that the horror continues at this very moment...

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Damien Kilby on Mar 31 2012

This book packs a huge wallop in its short 200 pages. The author sticks to the facts and avoids an emotionally exploitative tone -- but those facts are more than enough to rend at our hearts...

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Craig Welch on Apr 13 2012

...the story of Shin's awakening, escape and new beginning, is a riveting, remarkable book that should be required reading in every high-school or college-civics class.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

The Spectator

Below average
Apr 21 2012

It’s not just the drawings at the back of Escape from Camp 14 that aren’t very good. In a lot of respects the book is not up to much either: it’s clunky, baldly written and repetitive.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Salt Lake Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Jerry Harkavy on Mar 30 2012

Without interrupting the narrative, Harden skillfully weaves in details of North Korea’s history, politics and society, providing context for Shin’s plight.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Brisbane Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Ross Southernwood on Mar 25 2012

Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have died in the camps, Harden records, in a work that deserves to be widely read.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Asia Literary Review

Excellent
Reviewed by James Hoare

Shin’s account is echoed, and aspects of it verified, in other narratives. Perhaps his story, in reaching a worldwide audience, will at last draw more widespread attention to the desperate state of human rights in North Korea.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Meld Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Marcella Purnama on May 22 2012

For those who don’t know much about North Korea, Escape from Camp 14 is packed with enough information to give any reader a comprehensive understanding of its history...But just a warning: this is not a read for the faint-hearted.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Hudson Institute/WSJ

Excellent
Reviewed by Melanie Kirkpatrick on Apr 06 2012

...a searing account of one man's incarceration and personal awakening in North Korea's highest-security prison.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

KoreAm

Excellent
Reviewed by David Song on Mar 14 2012

But the most compelling part of Escape from Camp 14 actually begins in the latter half when Shin struggles to adjust to a new life outside North Korea and the organizations...that try to help him.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Devourer of Books

Good
Reviewed by Jen on May 16 2012

Harden tells Shin’s story in a clear, concise, and often horrifying way. Please read this book.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Take Me Away

Good
Reviewed by Jenny on Apr 02 2012

Escape From Camp 14 is an important human rights book that sheds light on this topic as well as on the plights of the individuals who are brave and lucky enough to escape the totalitarian regime.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Mother Daughter Book Club

Good
May 22 2012

It is shocking and at times gut wrenching...But it’s an important book that will give you faith in the human spirit as well as new perspective on North Korea...

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Reading to Know

Good
Reviewed by Carrie on May 08 2012

It is cruel, it is harsh and it is brutal....All in all, despite the harsh content within these pages, I have to highly recommend it.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

In Search of the End of the Sidewalk

Good
Reviewed by Michelle Ross on May 08 2012

Second, Harden doesn’t whitewash the tale to make it more comfortable for the reader. I appreciate that Shin’s story stands as it is.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave

Below average
Reviewed by Donna Brown on Apr 12 2012

Writing anyone’s biography without their full and frank commitment is always going to be difficult and to me it felt like there were many emotional elements of this story that weren’t touched upon.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Dhruva Jaishankar

Good
May 05 2012

There are evident parallels between Shin’s story — retold by Harden in plain, unvarnished prose — and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago...the book also recalls aspects of Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Constant Geography

Good
Apr 22 2012

At, 193 pages, “Escape From Camp 14,” can be read in an afternoon. Images described will haunt for much longer.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Constant Geography Blog

Good
Reviewed by Constant Geographer on Apr 22 2012

At, 193 pages, “Escape From Camp 14,” can be read in an afternoon. Images described will haunt for much longer.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Bookingly Yours

Good
Reviewed by Jenai on Apr 12 2012

I highly recommend this, totally a life-changing book that one would not stop reading until the last pages of the book.

Read Full Review of Escape from Camp 14

Reader Rating for Escape from Camp 14
88%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 2646 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

Henry Sarabia

Henry Sarabia 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Radhika Singh

Radhika Singh 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Shannon Atkinson

Shannon Atkinson 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Antony Smith

Antony Smith 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Sandra Pavic-Watkinson

Sandra Pavic-Watkinson 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Cathy Prain

Cathy Prain 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Randolfo Rijo

Randolfo Rijo 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Erin Elle

Erin Elle 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Chip Hanback

Chip Hanback 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Donna Adams

Donna Adams 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

×