Customer Reviews for

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Average Rating 4.5
( 267 )
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(160)

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(64)

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(20)

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(10)

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(13)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

33 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

Amazing, profoundly moving book. This is the story of a North K

Amazing, profoundly moving book. This is the story of a North Korean who somehow escaped the prisons of his country to escape to the United States, but not without having a role in the tragic deaths of many members of his family. It depicts the brutal atrocities of a ...
Amazing, profoundly moving book. This is the story of a North Korean who somehow escaped the prisons of his country to escape to the United States, but not without having a role in the tragic deaths of many members of his family. It depicts the brutal atrocities of a tyrannical regime, and leaves the reader profoundly affected by his story. How would we behave if put into the same situation? It made me look at Kim Jong Il, his father, and the government of North Korea in a way I've never imagined before.
There have been some great books by Korean authors recently, which I would also highly recommend.
"Please Look After Mom" is a poignant tale of a Korean mother who goes missing, and her family's attempts to locate her. It's told from four points of view.
"In Stitches" is the memoir of a second generation Korean American who was raised by a tyrannical Korean immigrant father, and how he overcame his childhood to become a doctor. A fast, funny, and heartwarming read. I highly recommend on three of these books!

posted by 7970514 on March 31, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

This book was such a disappointment. What was a potentially gri

This book was such a disappointment. What was a potentially gripping escape story, it was turned into a boring compilation of one North Korean refugee's story mixed with miscellaneous tedious facts about North Korea. The writer who is a reporter does just that - rep...
This book was such a disappointment. What was a potentially gripping escape story, it was turned into a boring compilation of one North Korean refugee's story mixed with miscellaneous tedious facts about North Korea. The writer who is a reporter does just that - report the facts or what may be facts since he even doubts the truthfulness of his subject, Shin. The story telling is brain numbing because he detracts the reader with tedious facts about North Korea and fails to personalize Shin the North Korean refugee. One paragraph he's describing Shin's escape, the next he's giving statistics of the number of North Korean refugees that manages to escape to China and eventually South Korea. This is a terrible survivor's story and the writer does a great injustice in bringing the horrific ordeal Shin had to endure in the North Korean labor camps and his struggles thereafter. I wish they would just translate Shin's own memoir into English because I don't think Mr. Harden deserves to split the proceeds of this book "fifty-fifty" with Shin.

posted by LunaticNYC on April 23, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing, profoundly moving book. This is the story of a North K

    Amazing, profoundly moving book. This is the story of a North Korean who somehow escaped the prisons of his country to escape to the United States, but not without having a role in the tragic deaths of many members of his family. It depicts the brutal atrocities of a tyrannical regime, and leaves the reader profoundly affected by his story. How would we behave if put into the same situation? It made me look at Kim Jong Il, his father, and the government of North Korea in a way I've never imagined before.
    There have been some great books by Korean authors recently, which I would also highly recommend.
    "Please Look After Mom" is a poignant tale of a Korean mother who goes missing, and her family's attempts to locate her. It's told from four points of view.
    "In Stitches" is the memoir of a second generation Korean American who was raised by a tyrannical Korean immigrant father, and how he overcame his childhood to become a doctor. A fast, funny, and heartwarming read. I highly recommend on three of these books!

    33 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2012

    A must read

    This book tells a story similar to the hunger games. Except this story is not fiction. How can we as humans continue to turn a blind eye to what North Korea is doing? There but for fortune go you or I.

    20 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This book was such a disappointment. What was a potentially gri

    This book was such a disappointment. What was a potentially gripping escape story, it was turned into a boring compilation of one North Korean refugee's story mixed with miscellaneous tedious facts about North Korea. The writer who is a reporter does just that - report the facts or what may be facts since he even doubts the truthfulness of his subject, Shin. The story telling is brain numbing because he detracts the reader with tedious facts about North Korea and fails to personalize Shin the North Korean refugee. One paragraph he's describing Shin's escape, the next he's giving statistics of the number of North Korean refugees that manages to escape to China and eventually South Korea. This is a terrible survivor's story and the writer does a great injustice in bringing the horrific ordeal Shin had to endure in the North Korean labor camps and his struggles thereafter. I wish they would just translate Shin's own memoir into English because I don't think Mr. Harden deserves to split the proceeds of this book "fifty-fifty" with Shin.

    9 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    Oh, the inhumanity!

    This book seemlessly blends a horrifying first person account of Shim, a young man born out of a loveless "reward marriage" in a North Korean prison camp with background information about North Korea. I learned much about the region from reading this book as well as the struggles Shin continually faces as he struggles to overcome the psychological trauma from his years in Csmp 24.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    This book has a lot to envy

    This book was a major disappointment. The writing is pretty horrid; it somehow takes an exciting story and dulls it down. It seems as though this book could be half as long as it was. Random facts are thrown in willy nilly to lengthen the book. This would be fine if the facts weren't already well known and completely cherry picked from better books that came out last year. The book "Nothing to Envy" is far superior to this piece. This is evidenced by the amount of covert, and sometimes overt, facts taken straight from that book. Half of this book is a repeat of what the Nothing to Envy author actually wrote. Since one cannot copyright facts, this author can simply steal facts from that book and repeat them as his own. I felt ripped off buying this after I read Nothing to Envy. The escapees story is good, but about 50 pages worth of text. The rest is from Nothing to Envy. Read that before this. Don't buy both. That was my mistaked.

    7 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Absolutely gripping

    In tthe US (east coast near Washington DC) it is difficult to imagine the life of the "political prisoner" in North Korea. This young man's story is superbly told. Read it. You will be enlightened.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2012

    Fascinating read about such a little known place

    I read this non-fiction account of the life of a man born into a labor camp in N Korea, who was able to defect to China and ultimately make it to S Korea and then to the USA. That someone could live to adulthood and never hear the word love nor even experience the emotion speaks volumes. Prior to reading this, I read the novel "The Orphan Master's Son" and after this book I read "Nothing To Envy", a non-fiction account of the loves of 6 defectors. Together, these three books opened my eyes to the isolation and cruelty perpetrated by the Kim dynasty. I highly recommend this book, even on its own.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2012

    highly recommend

    this is just an amazing book. it reminds us of shattered lives due to a horrible government. How hard it is for a person to deal with a great trajedy in his life, I cant imagine carrying around all the pain Shin has to carry on a daily basis. We as a country need to figure a way to help stop this, we think about how sad the holacast is and is but this is just as bad. it is amazing that we as a worls can put up with this. this is just an amazing story and everyone needs to read this and think about what is happening in North Korea

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    Wow!

    I heard about this book on NPR and had never heard of "work camps" in North Korea. I don't know much about North Korea so I found this book informative. It's hard to not feel very fortunate for all the freedoms you have after reading this book. I'm also haunted by the fact that these camps still exist as they are no different than concentration camps. Shin's story is amazing but you find his escape was only a physical one...

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    Remarkable story

    From his birth he was just another mouth for his mother to feed and another drone for the many industries in Camp 14. His struggles inside and outside the camp are very powerful and gritty.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2012

    Simply amazing book. It is hard to believe that these conditions

    Simply amazing book. It is hard to believe that these conditions still exist in the world. Before reading this book, I watched a National Geographic documentary (see Netflix) about North Korea which really complemented this story. I would recommend this book highly- well written, matter of fact, unbiased. A must read.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    Anonymous

    I really thought highly of this book. It was well written. I cant believe that Korean's have to go through this.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    A terrifc read!

    It is amazing...our human will to survive. I loved this book. It is a quick read at only 189 pages. When I finished the book, I went to Google Earth and actually found the camp and traced his journey. (You can actually type into the google earth search " camp 14". I recommend the book highly.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Good read

    I purchased and read this book on a whim. I found that, as is common with a growing number of people in America, I had a remarkable lack of knowledge about what is going on in the world. While, as others have noted, Escape can at times be a combersome read I am still very pleased with my purchase.
    After reading this book, I wanted more info on the living conditions in North Korea. I read Nothing to Envy, as was recommended by other reviewers. I recommend both books.
    Escape follows the struggle of a political prisoner born and raised in a prison camp, the statistical information and history lessons about North Korea are less detailed and largely duplicated as in Nothing to Envy. I still feel, however, that Escape provides further, valuable insight into the human rights issues in North Korea.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    As I read the reviews of others, I can't help but wonder-have we

    As I read the reviews of others, I can't help but wonder-have we read the same book? Shin Dong-hyuk's story is harrowing enough on its own; it does not need much elaboration. Therefore, I very much looked forward to Escape from Camp 14, guessing at its wonderful potential. However, in the hands of Blaine Harden, it fell short of my expectations.

    The book as a whole felt unsubstantial and wobbly. Harden's own confession that he had a difficult time trusting Shin's narrative doesn't inspire much confidence in the veracity of the text. I can understand Shin's reluctance to (truthfully) divulge events that depict him in a negative light. However, his 'little white lies' make it difficult to trust his account of events.

    Making matters worse, Escape is poorly written, organized and executed. Sentences are clunky and disjointed and rarely flowed together. Harden would switch between ideas, stories and trains of thought at the drop of a hat, leaving me with reader's whiplash. I can excuse a few poor transitions here and there, but 200 pages worth makes for an unpleasant reading experience.

    In the hands of a different author, Escape would have been a fantastic, much needed expose of North Korean human rights abuses. However, in the hands of Blain Harden, it fizzled.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2012

    This book reveals the depravity of some humans.

    This is a fascinating, saddening, shocking read of the cruelty that humans can impose upon other humans. It also clearly shows the insurmountable results of that cruelty in this man's life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2012

    good read

    After reading this book I realize how fantastic living in the free world is

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Highly recommended. This is something that most Amricans are not aware of.

    It was amazing to read something that is so hidden away in the year 2012. So much is no longer private in our lives, how can this be going on without being in the news media? Why is it going on without the world doing something to stop it.

    The book was very precise and the horrifying part is that it is happening now.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    North Korea is a real piece of

    While the actual story part is short, it makes sense when you realize that the subject is not used to expressing emotions or detailing out his actions and why. It's just incredible that this is a true story and this really goes on. And, even more interesting that those that do physically escape, never really escape the harm does by these lunatics running North Korea.
    Very educational. Recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    Extremely well written. The Holocaust still Lives.I just don't understand the Powers in this world allow this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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