Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty

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Macmillan, Jan 10, 2006 - History - 876 pages
9 Reviews

Subsisting on a diet short on food grains and long on lies, North Koreans have been indoctrinated from infancy to follow fanatically the despots Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.
Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader lifts North Korea's curtain of self-imposed isolation to offer in-depth portraits of its Orwellian leaders, taking readers inside a society that might seem to be from another planet.
This book is already being hailed as an Asian studies classic, rigorously researched and spellbinding in its storytelling. The chief U.S. envoy was photographed carrying his personal copy as he prepared to negotiate an end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. Now revised and expanded for the paperback, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader for many years to come will define a Spartan, stubbornly enigmatic society.

Praise for Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader
"Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader is, from all I have read, simply the best book ever written about North Korea. . . . Martin portrays North Korean life with a clarity that is stunning."
—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Review of Books
"An excellent book, well researched and lucidly written. It is especially refreshing to find someone showing serious interest in North Korean propaganda instead of merely hooting at it."
—B. R. Myers, The Atlantic Monthly
"A careful, penetrating analysis of North Korea."
--David Halberstam
"Rich with revealing detail . . . Given the appalling risks of military action, we should give the type of positive engagement that Martin proposes a serious try."
—Mike Mochizuki, The Washington Post Book World
"Of course no one is really certain what goes on in North Korea. . . . [T]here has been very little human intelligence of value over the last fifty years or so. . . . Bradley K. Martin has stepped into this breach. . . . Martin's massive book provides as useful a set of insights into life in North Korea as can be found anywhere."
—Warren I. Cohen, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Successfully combines history, society, travel writing, and political analysis in a way that makes it totally readable. . . . Must be the most comprehensive single-volume English-language book ever written on North Korea. . . . Overall, Bradley Martin has written a truly remarkable book, one that should be read by anyone even remotely interested in North Korea."
—Yoel Sano, Asia Times
"Cracking the cocoon of secrecy and propaganda surrounding North Korea is not a job for the faint of heart. Yet somehow Martin, a former Newsweek bureau chief, has pulled it off, presenting a scrupulously detailed, intimate portrait of the Kims, the world's only communist dynasty. He deconstructs the mythologized biographies of the father-and-son leaders, taking us inside their family feuds, harems, and fortified villas."
—Christian Caryl, Newsweek
"Fascinating . . . may be the best and most comprehensive English-language history of North Korea ever written."
—Jacob Margolies, The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo)
"The most comprehensive and detailed look yet at the nation-sized theme park of Kim World is Bradley Martin's Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader. Mr. Martin paints a portrait of a national horror show demonstrating how ruthless, effective, and evil men can oppress their neighbors. . . . It reads like a medieval court, the Ottoman sultanate, or imperial China. . . . [T]he book paints a vast canvas of what must be as close as possible to hell on earth, other than in the very midst of war."
—Doug Bandow, The Washington Times
"Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader is a rich and rewarding book that anyone interested in this strange Leninist vestige should read. The sensational extravagance of the leadership; the dreadful sufferings of the common people; the ludicrous personality cults thrown up by both Kims; Kim Jong-il's need for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles (his possession of the latter is certain, of the former highly probable); the systematic destruction of normal life and language in North Korea—all this is laid out here for inspection. If I may be permitted a book reviewer's cliché: I couldn't put it down. . . . By sheer relentless accumulation of detail, Martin succeeds here in giving us a full portrait of the Kims and their filthy little tyranny."
—John Derbyshire, National Review
"Like Orville Schell's penetrating studies of China under Mao, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader is destined to become a classic of Asian studies."
—Derek Pell, DingBat Magazine
"A page-turner with footnotes as interesting as the narrative."
—Get Lost Books
"Bradley Martin . . . portrays North Korea as a failed state with a dangerous weapon, but he explores as well the mentality of Mr. Kim and of his father, Kim Il-sung, whose leadership from 1948 to 1994 did so much to seal North Korea's fate. Kim Il-sung, Mr. Martin reminds us, once wrote: ‘One is pleased to see the bugs die in a fire even though one's house is burned down.' "
—Gordon G. Chang, The Wall Street Journal
"A detailed account of the world's most remote kingdom and its leaders, Kim Il-sung and ruling son Kim Jong-il. Martin's analysis illustrates that North Korea is a traditional more than a revolutionary society"
—Robert A. Scalapino, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, and coauthor of Communism in Korea, JoongAng Daily (Seoul)
"It is often said that North Korea is the most puzzling country in the world. It is a difficult place to visit. The few journalists who make it there don't have the freedom to interview anyone they want. Its archives are not open to scholars. This does not mean, however, that no information is available on North Korea. It just requires a little bit more digging and interpreting. For the last three decades, veteran journalist Bradley Martin has been compiling his notes drawn from four trips to North Korea, patient scrutiny of official publications, and interviews with numerous defectors. His book Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, an immense and detailed examination of North Korean history and politics, integrates much of the recent scholarship on the country and adds some new pieces to the puzzle. . . . The picture of North Korean society that emerges from the narrative is far more thorough and detailed than the usual monochromatic depiction of a monolithic state."
—John Feffer, Korean Quarterly
"I want to praise this book: In addition to providing a briskly written and even-handed treatment of the North Korean dictatorship, the author includes lots of interviews, and while he includes the background of the interviews, you can yourself give what credence you desire to what you read. . . . Like reading an account of the Rwanda genocides, reading this book certainly saddens one about the continuing tragedy of human oppression, all inflicted in ‘the name of the heavenly leader.' When centuries from now they tell of our times, I think they cannot fail to remark scathingly on this."
—John Howard Oxley, Strategy Page
"Excellent, highly readable overview of North Korea. I was looking for a book that would (a) go into the recent history and current state of North Korean society while hopefully being (b) well written and an engaging intellectual piece of work. This book succeeded admirably on both counts. It deals well with the history of Korea beginning in the pre-WWII era and continuing up to the present, and provides as detailed and fascinating an examination of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il as one could ever imagine reading in something written by an outsider. I enjoyed it immensely and feel like I now have a far better understanding of the forces at work in that very strange and dangerous little nation."
—Buckeye's Reviews
" ‘Axis of evil' member North Korea is not on the tourist map for most Western travelers, so its people and what their lives are like are mostly out of reach. Bradley K. Martin . . . moves North Korea within sight in this detailed account."
—Dan R. Barber, Dallas Morning News
"Under different circumstances, North Korea could be the subject of a Marx Brothers satire, with the elements of a pompous, ego-driven patriarch, a worshipful population, and a general aura of fantasy and illusion. But North Korea has a superbly equipped million-man army and an expanding nuclear weapons program. So this comprehensive examination of this totalitarian society and the two men who have dominated it is often terrifying. For a quarter century, Martin has covered North Korea while working for the Baltimore Sun, the Asian Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek. Using newly available material from Russian and Chinese sources, Martin offers surprising insights into the career and character of both Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il."
"This massive study of North Korea embraces its political and economic history over the last seventy years; the lives of its leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il; its diplomatic relations with South Korea, Japan, China, and the United States since 1945; its current crises regarding nuclear weapons and food shortages. . . . Martin, a former bureau chief for the Baltimore Sun, the Asian Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek, has much to offer."
—John F. Riddick, Library Journal
"A sharp-eyed look at a cold and hungry outpost of the Axis of Evil. Former Newsweek bureau chief Martin first traveled to North Korea in 1979, and what he found was a near-religious cult of personality centered on the person of Kim Il-sung, known variously as the Great Leader, Fatherly Leader, Respected and Beloved Leader, and so on, a partial listing of whose reputed achievements ‘would have aroused the envy of a Leonardo da Vinci or Thomas Jefferson.' "
—Library Journal
"As a result of North Korea's isolation, it's been extremely difficult to get any information about what goes on inside the country, apart from the testimonies of defectors. That's why Bradley Martin's book, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, is so valuable . . . perhaps the most comprehensive look at the country yet."
—Lisa Katayama, Mother Jones
"The top U.S. envoy to North Korea is reading a book about the personality cult surrounding the leadership of the North, the world's most impenetrable state. When U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill arrived at a South Korean airport on Saturday for talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, he was seen holding a book titled Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty."
—Yonhap news agency, "U.S. nuclear negotiator reading book on North Korean leaders," Yonhap dispatch, Korea Herald, May 16, 2005
"Bradley K. Martin has been watching North Korea for a quarter of a century, and his important new book proves just how much it is possible to learn about that closed and secretive country through careful observation and analysis. Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader will immediately become an indispensable source for anyone trying to make sense of the modern North Korean state. This is journalism at its best—nothing so comprehensive and authoritative has been written about North Korea for thirty years. It is frankly amazing that a non-Korean could produce such a work."
—Nicholas Eberstadt, American Enterprise Institute,
author of The End of North Korea
"Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader is important as well as fascinating. The research is impeccable, the writing excellent. This is a major and timely contribution, and essential to anyone who hopes to deal sensibly with a vital region of the world."
—Terry Anderson, former Associated Press correspondent and
author of Den of Lions
"Brad Martin's book on North Korea is at once enlightening and frightening. It is lucid in its writing, balanced in its analysis, and comprehensive in its meticulous research and anecdotal evidence. The detailed expositon of the narrow life of luxury and the devious character of the ‘Dear Leader,' Kim Jong-il, is scary. So is the description of North Korea as a corrupt, secretive, stagnant fief of the Kim family. Brad Martin, with his long years as a Pyongyang-watcher, is eminently qualified to write a book that should strip away any illusions America and the West have about Kim's dangerous regime."
—Richard Halloran, former correspondent for The New York Times
in Asia and Washington, D.C.
"Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader is a must read for anyone serious about trying to understand what is happening and why it may be happening in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."
—Tom Coyner, publisher of Korea Economic Reader
"The book is an absolute marvel of new information. . . . A wonderful contribution to the limited information available about North Korea and should be read by both professionals and the general public."
—Steven A. Leibo, professor of modern international history and politics, The Sage Colleges
"It's not enough to merely identify an enemy—you also have to figure out what makes him tick by listening carefully to his internal logic and investigating the myths he concocts about himself. That Mr. Martin so ably guides us to just such an understanding about a place as patently illogical to the outsider's eye as North Korea underscores what a marvelous job he has done. This is a truly excellent book—absorbing, terrifically written, and compelling."
—Tracy Dahlby, former managing editor of Newsweek International and author of Allah's Torch: A Report from Behind the Scenes in Asia's War on Terror
"Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader is terrific. Vastly informative, compulsively readable, it is without doubt the single best book ever written on North Korea."
—Mike Chiney, senior Asia correspondent, CNN


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - chaosmogony - LibraryThing

A very thorough, at times depressing, look into the North Korean regime from the very beginning. Worth a read if you're interested in that sort of thing. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - cyafer - LibraryThing

An interesting and enlightening book whose true effect was heavily clouded by a confusing lack of organization. The author bounces rapidly between history, personal interpretations of events ... Read full review


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About the author (2006)

Bradley K. Martin has covered Korea and other parts of Asia as a journalist for more than a quarter century and has worked as bureau chief for The Baltimore Sun, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and Asia Times (for which he wrote a "Pyongyang Watch" column). He has has made five reporting trips to North Korea, a degree of access to the secretive country that few American journalists can match. He is currently based in Tokyo as a senior writer and Asia correspondent for Bloomberg Markets magazine.

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