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The Reluctant Communist

My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea

Charles Robert Jenkins (Author), Jim Frederick (Author)

Incl. Brit Common, US &Territ, CA, MX

Paperback, 232 pages
ISBN: 9780520259997
March 2008
$29.95, £24.00
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In January of 1965, twenty-four-year-old U.S. Army sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins abandoned his post in South Korea, walked across the DMZ, and surrendered to communist North Korean soldiers standing sentry along the world's most heavily militarized border. He believed his action would get him back to the States and a short jail sentence. Instead he found himself in another sort of prison, where for forty years he suffered under one of the most brutal and repressive regimes the world has known. This fast-paced, harrowing tale, told plainly and simply by Jenkins (with journalist Jim Frederick), takes the reader behind the North Korean curtain and reveals the inner workings of its isolated society while offering a powerful testament to the human spirit.

1. Super Jenkins
2. In the Army, and across the DMZ
3. Housemates
4. Cooks, Cadets, and Wives
5. Soga-san
6. Friends and Strangers
7. Domestic Life
8. Hitomi's Escape
9. My Escape
10. Homecomings
Charles Robert Jenkins is a former United States Army soldier who lived in North Korea from 1965 to 2004. He now lives in Japan. Jim Frederick was Time magazine's Tokyo bureau chief from 2002 to 2006 and is now a Time senior editor stationed in London.
“One of the most important and devastating accounts of life inside a totalitarian society.”—Commentary
“An amazing and heroic story.”—Indianapolis Star
“A riveting account.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Jenkins's straightforward presentation . . . conveys effectively both the hardships that he and other foreigners endured and the understanding and personal ties that he established. Readers have few opportunities to hear firsthand about life inside North Korea; those who follow current events will be intrigued by this story.”—Library Journal
“Jenkins’s book is oddly compelling. The blank ordinariness of his character brings out the moral and physical ugliness of life in North Korea.”—New Yorker
"However we judge Mr. Jenkins's actions so many years ago, "The Reluctant Communist" is itself an act of redemption. This extraordinary book opens a window on a world of fathomless evil, and it tells a heartbreaking story -- of a life lived in adversity and conducted with a mixture of fortitude, resignation, tenderness and regret. Clearly Charles Robert Jenkins emerged from his years of ordeal with his Americanness intact. True patriotism can come in many forms."—Wall Street Journal
“From the thoughtful foreword by Mr. Frederick who lays out the context of Jenkins' bizarre story (including a brief but efficient re-cap of the Korean War and its aftermath leading up to Jenkins' crossing the 38th parallel in 1965) through the final page, THE RELUCTANT COMMUNIST is absolutely riveting.”—
"This story by Robert Jenkins of his four decades in North Korea represents a rare opportunity to view life in one of the most reclusive societies in the world, offering unprecedented insights for both specialists and the general reader."—Robert Scalapino, University of California, Berkeley

"This is an incredible story of betrayal, love and the search for redemption. Robert Jenkins is a modern-day Robinson Crusoe, isolated from the outside world, and relying on his wits to survive in a nightmarish parody of a nation where nothing is as it seems. Living in constant fear and violence, Jenkins's efforts to grow food, dig a well, heat his home, generate electricity and to find companionship, trust and ultimately love, lend this rough and ready narrative an unexpected depth. Set within the bizarre and Orwellian surroundings of North Korea during the late 20th century, Jenkins's account is like no other I've ever read."—Jasper Becker, author of Rogue Regime: The Continuing Threat of North Korea

"Charles Jenkins' memoir is a genuinely unique account of the only American ever to live in North Korea for most of his life and return to write about it. Part biography, part eyewitness testimony, part apology, this book takes Mr. Jenkins from a childhood in the segregated South to a U.S. Army ruling the roost in South Korea in the 1950s, to a North Korea that saw him as a real-life Martian, but a valuable one for use in Cold War propaganda."—Bruce Cummings, Chairman of the History Department at the University of Chicago

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