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A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea
by Masaji Ishikawa
172 pages
AmazonCrossing
Release Date: December 1, 2017

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Memoirs and autobiographies don’t often grab my attention – I generally prefer a colorful but detached view of a person’s life – but Masaji ishikawa’s recent narrative about life in North Korea is unique, gripping and compelling. And it is rapidly becoming one of the most-read books of 2017.

Ishikawa was born in Japan but moved with his family to North Korea as a teenager. His father was lured there by the promise of a prosperous life, but the truth proved horrifying and desperate. This, then, is the author’s tale of life under Kim Il-sung – and of his escape.

Although Ishikawa’s book has not yet been reviewed by major mainstream journals and newspapers, I am aware that reviews by several are forthcoming.  I will be adding links to those reviews as they become available. In the meantime, both Amazon and Goodreads have reviews submitted by readers.

Third-party reviews and links:

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From the publisher:

The harrowing true story of one man’s life in—and subsequent escape from—North Korea, one of the world’s most brutal totalitarian regimes.

Half-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just thirteen years old, and unwittingly became members of the lowest social caste. His father, himself a Korean national, was lured to the new Communist country by promises of abundant work, education for his children, and a higher station in society. But the reality of their new life was far from utopian.

In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life. A River in Darkness is not only a shocking portrait of life inside the country but a testament to the dignity—and indomitable nature—of the human spirit

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