Very, very interesting read. I went to public school in new jersey. I learned about our civil war a million times, but rarely touched on the history of the world around us. I recommend this to anyone who wants to expand their world view.
Shin was given a life sentence the moment he was born. He was sentenced to live his life as a prisoner for crimes he did not commit. He spent his life in constant hunger and pain. When his mother and brother tried to escape, he turned them in (hoping for food) and ended up being tortured for months before he watched them executed in front of the camp.
Harden intertwines Shin's story with stories of other men who have fled North Korea, what an "average" North Korean's life might be like, and the lives of the leaders and their friends. Harden writes about North Korea as a country: The rise and death of Kim Kong Il, how they committed insurance fraud to collect money from other countries, and how they survived on aid from their neighbors.
Escape from Camp 14 is a challenging read, but it should be read.