The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and the Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way to Freedom

Blaine Harden. Viking, $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-01657-0
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. (The author’s previous title, Escape from Camp 14, about Shin Dong-hyuk, a North Korean political prisoner who escaped from a concentration camp, generated some controversy recently when the author and publisher admitted that parts of the bestselling book are inaccurate, due to false representations on the part of Dong-hyuk.) 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.” The book opens with brief bios of both men, covering the battles and No’s defection. Although the title is a tip-off to a happy resolution, No’s road to the West is a circuitous one that starts with the U.S. secretly promoting a financial reward for defection, dubbed Operation Moolah, in Communist nations shortly after Stalin’s death in 1953. With access to No and newly released intelligence, Harden presents fresh insights into North Korea. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/2015
Release date: 03/17/2015
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-14-310802-3
Library Binding - 500 pages - 978-1-62899-684-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-698-18903-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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