Nothing to Envy Selected for History Course at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

October 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

nothing to envy

This is a real place – the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea or North Korea. The Communist regime that has controlled the northern  half of the Korean peninsula since 1945 might be the most totalitarian of modern world  history.

The winner of the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, Barbara Demick’s Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea offers a never-before-seen view of a country and society largely unknown to the rest of the world.

The book is on the course syllabus at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (course name: History: The US and The Far East). 

“I have adopted the book Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick for my upper-level HST 3450: The US and the Far East course. I have read the book, and believe that students will enjoy this insider’s look into North Korea, by observing the lives and trials of ordinary people who are caught in their country’s political difficulties and faced with the constant surveillance by a paranoid regime. North Korea, especially, is a ‘black box’ for Americans, who have little real information about the country beyond the belligerent antics of its ‘Dear Leader’ and military seen on the news. These poignant personal narratives of North Koreans attempting to live meaningful lives despite dealing with a regime that fails them and their families–leading some to flee to a more prosperous China and freer South Korea–show students a deeper side of the struggles of that nation’s ordinary citizens that they can relate to. The story of the two lovers whose relationship was hampered by political background and educational opportunities especially struck a chord. We will read Demick’s book alongside viewings of Gordon’s documentaries and selections from Bruce Cumings book Korea’s Place in the Sun to enhance our understanding of North Korea, while investigating some of the unresolved historical factors dating from the stalemated Korean War settlement that continue to contribute to high tensions.” –Annika A. Culver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Asian History, Coordinator, Asian Studies, University of North Carolina at Pembroke

To read “The Books of The Times” review by Dwight Garner (July 21, 2010)  about “The Korean War” by Bruce Cumings, go


To read a book excerpt, click here.

To order an examination copy, click here.

Entry filed under: Asian Studies, cultural studies, History, Military History, Political Science, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Bruce Cumings’ Acclaimed History on the Korean War Being Adopted at the University of Mexico Recommended for Course Adoption: Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House, by Two Political Insiders

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New trade fiction, non-fiction and memoir being used in the classroom.


October 2010


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