Escape from Camp 14

“Harden’s book, besides being a gripping story, unsparingly told, carries a freight of intelligence about this black hole of a country.”—Bill Keller, New York Times

“The central character in Blaine Harden’s extraordinary new book Escape from Camp 14 reveals more in 200 pages about human darkness in the ghastliest corner of the world’s cruelest dictatorship than a thousand textbooks ever could…Escape from Camp 14, 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. Like “The Diary of Anne Frank” or Dith Pran’s account of his flight from Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, it’s impossible to read this excruciatingly personal account of systemic monstrosities without fearing you might just swallow your own heart…Harden’s wisdom as a writer shines on every page.”— The Seattle Times

“Reads like a pulse-pounding thriller. This book will make you cheer. It will also make you cry.”– The Today Show

“Escape from Camp 14″ sits alongside a literature of holocausts … like “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “The Gulag Archipelago” that damn their political and institutional spaces to eternal opprobrium and hostility — Sino-NK website

Winner of the 2012 Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique. Judges of the French literary prize recognized a book that they said “plunges the reader into a world of extreme and unimaginable inhumanity.” Finalist for Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Inspired a segment about Shin on 60 Minutes.

Published in 27 languages and selected by the Christian Science Monitor, the Financial Times, the South China Morning Post, Slate and Huffington Post Canada as a best book of 2012. School Library Journal named Escape as a 2012 best adult book for teens. Kobo, the ebook publisher for independent bookstores, named Escape to its list of top 50 books of 2012, and Itunes eBooks lists it among the 2012 top sellers in nonfiction. Indigo, Canada’s largest bookseller, picked Escape as the eighth best book published in 2012. The Readers Choice Awards of Goodreads, the online book club, selected Escape as the fifth best history/biography books published in 2012. A year-end rave review in Foreign Policy Journal described Escape as “one of the best books ever written on the indignity of life and death in North Korea’s vast labyrinth of political prisons.”

“In depicting the depravity of North Korean prison life, Harden’s book is an important portrait of man’s inhumanity to man… A remarkable and harrowing tale.”  — The Washington Post

“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 without an end in sight.” — Christian Science Monitor

“In a very brief time, Escape from Camp 14 has become a famous book… It is well-written and easy to read even if its subject is horrific. Since it began life in the form of a newspaper article, it has been serialized on BBC radio and extracted around the world in a variety of other newspapers. It tells the story of a man now called Shin Dong-hyuk, who lives in Seoul after having spent some time in the United States. But he was formerly Shin In Geum, born in one of the toughest North Korean labour camps where there was no faith, hope or charity, just sheer mind-boggling brutality.” — Asia Literary Review

“A remarkable new book.” — The Economist

“A must-read… Anyone puzzled by the North Korean conundrum should read this book. By telling the story of one very unusual young man, Escape opens a unique window onto life in the DPRK.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

“Blaine Harden of the Washington Post is an experienced reporter of other hellholes, such as the Congo, Serbia, and Ethiopia. These, he makes clear, are success stories compared to North Korea…Harden deserves a lot more than ; ‘wow’ for this terrifying, grim and, at the very end, slightly hopeful story of a damaged man still alive only by chance, whose life, even in freedom, has been dreadful.”—Literary Review (London)

“Harden’s book is a necessary document against indifference,” — Die Welt

“A remarkable story, [Escape from Camp 14] is a searing account of one man’s incarceration and personal awakening in North Korea’s highest-security prison.”— The Wall Street Journal

“In this extraordinary biography, which reads like an adventure novel where dreams mingle with nightmares, Harden fills in precise details on North Korea and its terrible regime.” — L’Express

“As U.S. policymakers wonder what changes may arise after the recent death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, this gripping book should raise awareness of the brutality that underscores this strange land. Without interrupting the narrative, Harden skillfully weaves in details of North Korea’s history, politics and society, providing context for Shin’s plight.” — Associated Press

“As an action story, the tale of Shin’s breakout and flight is pure The Great Escape, full of feats of desperate bravery and miraculous good luck. As a human story it is gut wrenching; if what he was made to endure, especially that he was forced to view his own family merely as competitors for food, was written in a movie script, you would think the writer was overreaching. But perhaps most important is the light the book shines on an under-discussed issue, an issue on which the West may one day be called into account for its inactivity.”— The Daily Beast

“A riveting new biography…If you want a singular perspective on what goes on inside the rogue regime, then you must read [this] story.  It’s a harrowing tale of endurance and courage, at times grim but ultimately life-affirming.”— CNN

“In Escape from Camp 14, Harden chronicles Shin’s amazing journey, from his very first memory–a public execution he witnessed as a 4-year-old–to his work with human rights advocacy groups in South Korea and the United States…By retelling Shin’s against-all-odds exodus, 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.”— Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Harden expertly interleaves thoughtful reports on the larger North Korean context into the more personal part of the narrative. Precise and lucid, he fills us in on this totalitarian state’s workings, its international relations and its devastating famines…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, to make us want to seek out more information and to ask if there isn’t more than can be done to bring about change.”— The Oregonian

“Many good books will be published this year. This one is absolutely unique…Shin Dong-Hyuk is the only person born in a North Korean political camp to escape and defect. He told his story at length to veteran foreign correspondent Blaine Harden, who wrote this extraordinary book…I don’t say that there’s an answer to the issues raised by this book. But there is a question. And the question is: “High school students in America debate why President Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t bomb the rail lines to Hitler’s caps. Their children may ask, a generation from now, why the West stared at far clearer satellite images of Kim Jong Il’s camps and did nothing.” This is tough reading. Read it.”—Don Graham, CEO of The Washington Post, in a review at

“This book must be read, must be studied page by shuddering page, and from thence, our nation must begin to demand accountability from Pyongyang not only for its capabilities to harm the world, but also for its willingness to harm its own citizens.”— Partisans

“[A] chilling [and] remarkable story of deliverance from a hidden land.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Harden tells a gripping story. Readers learn of Shin’s gradual discovery of the world at large, nonadversarial human relationships, literature, and hope—and the struggles ahead. A book that all adults should read.”— Library Journal (starred review)

“With a protagonist born into a life of backbreaking labor, cutthroat rivalries, and a nearly complete absence of human affection, Harden’s book reads like a dystopian thriller. But this isn’t fiction-it’s the biography of Shin Dong-hyuk.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is a story unlike any other… More so than any other book on North Korea, including my own, Escape from Camp 14 exposes the cruelty that is the underpinning of Kim Jong Il’s regime. Blaine Harden, a veteran foreign correspondent from The Washington Post, tells this story masterfully…The integrity of this book shines through on every page.”—Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North  Korea

“Through the extraordinary arc of Shin’s life, Harden illuminates the North Korea that exists beyond the headlines and creates a moving testament to one man’s struggle to retrieve his own lost humanity.”—Marcus Noland, co-author of Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea

“If you have a soul, you will be changed forever by Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14…Harden masterfully allows us to know Shin, not as a giant but as a man, struggling to understand what was done to him and what he was forced to do to survive. By doing so, Escape from Camp 14 stands as a searing indictment of a depraved regime and a tribute to all those who cling to their humanity in the face of evil.”—Mitchell Zuckoff, New York Times bestselling author of Lost in  Shangri-La

Online Focus, a major German weekly, examines young dictator Kim Jong Un, the old torturing ways of North Korea and Escape from Camp 14.

“Mr. Shin’s story, at times painful to read, recounts his physical and psychological journey from a lifetime of imprisonment in a closed and unfeeling prison society to the joys and challenges of life in a free society where he can live like a human being.”—Kongdan Oh, co-author of The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday  Life in the Hermit Kingdom

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