Author(s): Blaine Harden
An ambitious and gripping exploration of the world's most secretive state through the intertwined lives of two North Koreans, one infamous, one obscure: Kim Il Sung, the former North Korean leader and No Kum Sok, once the state's youngest jet fighter pilot. Shortly before the Korean War ended, their paths crossed. Kim Il Sung congratulated No Kum Sok on his flying skill and courage, but just a few months later, No Kum Sok stole a Soviet-made MiG-15 and escaped to a US airfield in South Korea. This non-fiction thriller digs deeply into the character of the Kim family dictatorship. Both an irresistible adventure story and an authoritative guide to the notorious state, The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot explains why North Korea remains so isolated, why it created and maintains its concentration camps, and why it is still so angry at the western world. 'Harden's book, besides being a gripping story, unsparingly told, carries a freight of intelligence about this black hole of a country' New York Times on Escape from Camp 14
The bestselling author of Escape from Camp 14 tells one man's astonishing story, set against the world's longest-lasting totalitarian state: North Korea
As with Escape from Camp 14, [Harden's] new book can read like a thriller. Financial Times Harden weaves the story of No, the pilot, and Kim, the tyrant, into a fascinating retelling of a tale from the early years of the Cold War ... No's life, the heart of the book, captivates. New York Times A riveting book that makes the history of North Korea accessible to the general reader. Wall Street Journal Harden delivers another page-turner about a North Korean who got out alive, despite staggering odds, in this real-life thriller that unfolds during the Korean War ... Harden weaves together narratives of "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung and No Kum Sok, who harbored a childhood dream of coming to the U.S., even though "at 19 he became the youngest jet fighter pilot on either side of the Korean War." ... With access to No and newly released intelligence, Harden presents fresh insights into North Korea. Publishers Weekly There's no country on Earth quite like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea ... The place exists; it's in our consciousness, occasionally in our nightmares and, now and again, in the news - but what is this thing called North Korea? ... Blaine Harden has done more than anyone else to bring the country to a mass audience. Washington Post Even readers who think they know about the Korean War will find things in this book that will surprise them. Seattle Times
Blaine Harden is a reporter for PBS Frontline and a contributor to The Economist, based in Seattle, having completed a tour as the Washington Post's bureau chief in Tokyo. He is the prize-winning, acclaimed author of Escape From Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West; Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent and A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia.