A Rare Biography of Ruthless, Enigmatic North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

Book review: The Great Successor, by Anna Fifield (Amazon / Book Depository) I didn’t imagine a book about Kim Jong Un would be an unputdownable page-turner, but here we are. I’m not sure anything I write about The Great Successor is going to do it justice as it’s tough to encapsulate, but I’ll try. Kim Jong Un is the younger son of Kim Jong Il, the second … Continue reading A Rare Biography of Ruthless, Enigmatic North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

Losing Her Religion: A Former Jehovah’s Witness on Leaving the Faith

Book review: Leaving the Witness, by Amber Scorah (Amazon / Book Depository) A Witness cannot just fade away without anyone trying to intervene, and it was hard to find enough mental space to gain any perspective. It’s not the kind of religion that lets you walk away, because the people in it think that by walking away, you have lost your mind and interventions will … Continue reading Losing Her Religion: A Former Jehovah’s Witness on Leaving the Faith

Reinvestigating A Mysterious Murder In Old China

Book review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French (Amazon / Book Depository) After reading a footnote briefly referencing the murder of a young English expat in Peking (now Beijing), author Paul French woke up the next morning with the strong conviction that there was a deep and strange story behind it that needed telling. Midnight in Peking is the ominously suspenseful historical true crime account that … Continue reading Reinvestigating A Mysterious Murder In Old China

The Man-Made Disaster of “The Deadliest Animal in History”

Book review: No Beast So Fierce, by Dane Huckelbridge (Amazon / Book Depository) Around 1900 in India and Nepal, a Royal Bengal tiger had gone “cannibal”. That’s the term author John Vaillant attributes to Russians in The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, used for describing when a tiger preys on humans as its primary food source. The Champawat tiger would take 436 lives in … Continue reading The Man-Made Disaster of “The Deadliest Animal in History”

The Obsessive, Expensive World of Arowana Collecting

Book review: The Dragon Behind the Glass, by Emily Voigt (Amazon / Book Depository) Once upon a time I had wanted to find out why a pet fish was so irresistible that people smuggled it into the United States, risking their very liberty. Three and a half years and fifteen countries later, I was now in Brazil (possibly illegally) pursuing the fish myself. At some … Continue reading The Obsessive, Expensive World of Arowana Collecting

Heartbreaking, Illuminating North Korean Defector’s Memoir that Lingers

Book review: A River in Darkness, by Masaji Ishikawa (Amazon) What do I remember of that night? The night I escaped from North Korea? There are so many things that I don’t remember, that I’ve put out of my mind forever…But I’ll tell you what I do recall. It’s drizzling. But soon the drizzle turns to torrential rain. Sheets of rain so heavy, I’m soaked … Continue reading Heartbreaking, Illuminating North Korean Defector’s Memoir that Lingers

Many Names, Many Lives Of A North Korean Defector

Book review: The Girl With Seven Names, by Hyeonseo Lee with David John (Amazon / Book Depository) Leaving North Korea is not like leaving any other country. It is more like leaving another universe. I will never truly be free of its gravity, no matter how far I journey. After reading Barbara Demick’s brilliant Nothing to Envy, her group biography of several North Korean defectors, I was fascinated by … Continue reading Many Names, Many Lives Of A North Korean Defector

We Have Nothing to Envy in the World

Book review: Nothing to Envy, by Barbara Demick Amazon “In the futuristic dystopia imagined in 1984, George Orwell wrote of a world where the only color to be found was in the propaganda posters. Such is the case in North Korea.” I saw this book mentioned in an article about David Sedaris’ special habit when going on a US speaking tour. He recommends a book for … Continue reading We Have Nothing to Envy in the World

Across Continents, On the Trail of a Con Man

Book review: Serpentine, by Thomas Thompson Serpentine is a long book but it doesn’t actually read like one. The writing is detailed and engrossing, pulling a reader in from the start. The story is about Charles Sobrahj, a French national of Vietnamese and Indian parentage born in Saigon. He had a troubled early start and things never much improved, as the book details his early life … Continue reading Across Continents, On the Trail of a Con Man