Deceived, Distressed by the Truth They’ve Been Withholding

Nothing to Envy Book Cover Nothing to Envy
Barbara Demick
Non-fiction
Fourth Estate
2010

nothing_to_envyNothing to Envy is Barbara Demick’s rightly praised history of North Korea in the early to late 1990s, as experienced by North Koreans.  Demick spent years interviewing North Korean defectors living in China and South Korea to compile the book.  Through their stories, Demick follows the crises in the isolated state that started developing with the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Many political commentators assumed this would lead to the collapse of North Korea as well.  As of time of writing, this has clearly not yet happened.

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As a Woman, My Country is the Whole World

HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Vintage Books, 2009) ISBN: 978-307-38709-7 Half the sky

So a couple months ago, giddy with having my first full-time job, but already feeling intellectually understimulated from the lack of university work to avoid doing, I stumbled into that great bookshop on Bourke Street.  Near Parliament House with the very aesthetic black and white sign, and crammed full of various works in a style reminiscent of a secondhand bookshop, but where everything is quite new.  Difficult to navigate, but a joy to lose yourself in.  In my highly suggestible state, one of an armful of books I took home with me was Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky.  I hesitated over it for some time, worrying that the book might have a white saviour complex and would thus turn out to be a disappointment[*].  In the end, though, I decided it was easy to read and so if I hated it, it would at least be quickly dealt with.

Half the Sky is what will hopefully be a portrait of humanity at the beginning of the 21st century.  Of the world’s people, women are still overwhelmingly more likely to be under-educated, under- or completely unpaid for their work, and face discrimination on every front.  In many parts of the world, girls are less likely to be born in the first place[†], and from the moment of their birth are provided less nutrition and less healthcare than boys.

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