- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
But, as Bruce Cumings demonstrates in this provocative, lively read, the story of the U.S.-Korea conflict is more complex than our leaders or our news media would have us believe. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Korea, and on declassified government reports, Cumings traces that story, from the brutal Korean War to the present crisis. Harboring no illusions regarding the totalitarian Kim Jong Il regime, Cumings nonetheless insists on a more nuanced approach. The result is both a counter-narrative to the official U.S. and North Korean versions and a fascinating portrayal of North Korea, a country that suffers through foreign invasions, natural disasters, and its own internal contradictions, yet somehow continues to survive.
|1||War Is a Stern Teacher||1|
|2||The Nuclear Crisis: First Act and Sequel||43|
|3||The Legend of Kim Il Sung||103|
|4||Daily Life in North Korea||128|
|5||The World's First Postmodern Dictator||155|
|6||Beyond Good and Evil||177|
Posted May 8, 2006
A primer for apologist literature on North Korea. Bruce Cumings insists that much of the hoopla that has incurred terrible relations between North Korea and United States. Correctly ascertains the nature of North Korean leadership-they are not crazy. His conclusion is that North Korea is a neo-Confucius state bent on traditional Korean values under the title of 'Juche.' Mr. Cumings believes that the nature of Kim Jong Il is a benevolent brilliance, while I'd interpret as malevolent Machaevellianism.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 13, 2006
Bruce Cumings' writings are often depicted by right-wing Republicans as apologist literature for North Korea. I think some of this is true, but as Cumings demonstrates the situation in Korea is much more complex than just good (America and South Korea) and villains (North Korea's Kim Jong Il). Cumings is not naive about the totalitarian North Korean garrison state of Jong Il and his successor to the throne, Jong Nam. Cumings shows that the leadership in North Korea are not a bunch of quacks or 'nuts,' they are quite rational, making them maybe more dangerous. Before Bush let open his mouth about the 'Axis of Evil,' North Korea was prepared for much more peaceful relations with the West. An interesting dichotomy in this book appears as Cumings argues that North Korea believes in traditional Korean values or 'Juche' as it is called by them. It is a return to neo-Confucianism. Very well written with a little bit too much solipism and apologism with some of North Korea's less-than-savory activities.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2005
North Korea is perhaps one of the most misunderstood countries/regimes in the world today. Not that it's not a militaristic garrison state...it is, but THERE IS AN ENTIRE HISTORY AS TO WHY IT IS THAT WAY and this book is a great tool for understanding why and how. Bruce Cummings does an excellent job of gathering information much of it 'from the horse's mouth' of US leaders and generals. From the occupation of the Korean Peninsula by Imperial Japan in World War 2, the guerilla war waged by the communists to fight and defeat the Japanese, the US role in dividing the nation and installing into power in the South of those who had openly and aggressively collaborated with the fascist occupation, through the Korean War with the US, the aid of the Chinese people to the Korean people, the threats of nuclear holocaust by the US, the complete destruction of the North by US bombs and napalm that resulted in the deaths of between 2-3 million people. The author also goes through the history of the founder of the North--Kim Il Sung, and his son--Kim Jong Il. Cummings brings the reader up to date and also puts the entire history into perspective and place in today's whole Orwellian Bush-dubbed 'Axis of Evil' and the war on the world spiralling crusade. Highly reccommended for students, professors and anyone wanting to know the world based on materialist and physical reality.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2005
If Leon Sigal manages to avoid sounding like an apologist for North Korea, Bruce Cumings jumps head first into a lake where everyone but the North Korean itself is responsible for the current state of the DPRK. His musings on the Korean War often seem more like the ramblings of an old man than a scholar attempting to prove a point. He wastes six pages writing about how close the U.S. came to dropping one or even dozens of atomic bombs on the North Koreans (mostly the words of notorious hawks like MacArthur and LeMay). One wonders if this rhetorical device to expose the near-treachery of the American military machine in the Korean War changes the fact that the U.S. did not drop even one atomic bomb during the Korean War (i.e. why spend six pages writing about something that didn¿t even happen?). Cumings, however, is quite thoughtful in writing a book on modern Korean history where his main antagonist is moral absolutism. Through such a filter, there is much to loathe and laugh at since the Korean peninsula became the focal point of Northeast Asian conflict. The power of each state¿s (ROK, DPRK, U.S., Japan, PRC) discourse must be sufficient to counteract the power of the other¿s. In this sense, Cumings draws out the hypocrisy of the West in pointing to North Korea as the sole purveyor of blind propaganda. The West, South Korea and Japan included, has been just as complicit in painting the DPRK as the freak but hideously amplified version of totalitarian communism as the DPRK is of aggrandizing themselves and vilifying the rest of the world. The result today, Cumings argues, is that while the world is caught between moving past and forgetting North Korea, and never forgiving them for being last outpost for Cold War excess, North Koreans are a people ¿who calculate time by the century.¿ In the last century, this has manifested itself in a North Korean mindset which constantly remembers the atrocities of the Americans, Russians, Chinese, South Koreans, and Japanese. However, contrast this with the image of Kim Jong-Il attempting, in fits and starts, to liberalize the economy, to establish friendlier relations with the historic enemies just enumerated, to somehow improve the country he inherited. Kim, Cumings writes, ¿is highly intelligent and very sensitive,¿ and as the figurehead of today¿s most notorious totalitarian regime, must be thinking ¿get me out of here¿ (168, 155). Cumings also stresses that South Koreans are often befuddled to find that North Koreans are ¿normal¿ people just like them (152). Cumings presents here contrasting images of North Korea: the country that time forgot, obliviously stuck in its own embittered past, and the country trying to change itself, to stay competitive with the rest of Asia. How does Cumings reconcile these two conceptions? The answer is he doesn¿t. In some ways, this is a major failing of Cumings¿ book, for he wants us to realize that the North Korean¿s historical memory runs deep, and at the same time he wants us to know that they are normal and regular people like you and me. Can these images be reconciled? Perhaps they easily can, but a policy maker must first decide which of these pictures is more accurate before deciding a course of action. For instance, if the DPRK is a country mired in its own history who cannot forgive the past sins of historical enemies, then perhaps tough measures to denuclearize are in order (bigger sticks, smaller carrots). If, on the other hand, they want to reform, but do not know how, then maybe we should think about helping them (bigger carrots, smaller sticks). Needless to say, Another Country is a frustrating experience if you are looking for clear, methodologically rigorous political science. But if you appreciate a meandering narrative filled with a lot of good, history-based scholarship, and a writer that refuses to come down on either side of what might constitute good or evil outside of a humanitarian ethos (North Korea does have a terriWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2004
Given our seemingly inevitable confrontation with North Korea this book is a must read for every American. We have to ask our American leaders why they don't know the information in this book -- or at least why they pretend not to know -- and why they continue to propel us into another disastrous conflict we can not only avoid, but that we can defuse forever.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2004
Posted April 20, 2010
No text was provided for this review.