Readers' Favorite

April 14, 2012

W!N: Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 2012 by Viking
ISBN13: 9780670023325


The shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived.
North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Donghyuk did.

In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin's life unlocks the secrets of the world's most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden's harrowing narrative of Shin's life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world's darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival.


Blaine Harden is a reporter for PBS Frontline and a contributor to the The Econmist. He has formerly served as The Washington Post's bureau chief in East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa; he also worked as national correspondant for The New York Times and as a writer for the Times magazine. He is the author of Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent and A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia. He lives in Seattle, Washington. 


“Following Shin’s story from North Korea to China to South Korea and eventually to the States and connecting it to the larger story of North Korea’s dictatorship and culture, Harden tells a gripping story. [ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14 is] 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.”
Publishers Weekly

“The chilling [and] remarkable story of deliverance from a hidden land.”


If you would like a chance to win a copy of Escape from Camp 14, please use the entry form below. Please note the book can only be sent to a U.S. postal address.

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  1. I've studied N&S Korea for almost 20 years now. I lived there and have gone back to visit. Planning another 10 year anniv. visit next year. Wrote Peace on the Peninsula from my 1st visit back after living there. Watched all the movies I could find and still watch movies in Korean. I've heard about these escapees from the prison camps but never read the books that have been written about them so interested to read this one. Thanks!!

  2. What's not to like about this book. Real-life drama in a life-and-death situation. An idealistic young man striving to survive tyranny and find a better future. It's totally inspiring. Thanks

  3. This book sounds pretty intense. I basically know nothing about what life is like in one of the most brutal dictatorships in the history of the world. I look forward to reading this account!

  4. I've got this on my TBR pile. Looks like a very moving story too. So sad that people have to go through what this young man did :(

  5. North Korea has got to so horrible for him to risk his life trying to escape.