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Melville House Publishing
The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters

The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters

by B. R. Myers
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"Myers renders great service to the global foreign policy establishment with his lucid and well documented profile of the North Korean polity. If only it were made mandatory reading for all the stakeholder leaders, particularly the American establishment, who feel compelled to deal politcally with North Korea."
—MIKE GRAVEL, US Senator 1969-1981

What do the North Koreans really believe? How do they see themselves and the world around them?

Here B.R. Myers, a North Korea analyst and a contributing editor of the The Atlantic, presents the first full-length study of the North Korean worldview. Drawing on extensive research into the regime's domestic propaganda, including films, romanace novels and other artifacts of the personality cult, Myers analyzes the notion of Koreans' unique moral purity, to the myth of an America quaking in terror of "the Iron General." In a concise but groundbreaking historical section, Myers also traces the origins of this official culture back to the Japanese fascist thought in which North Korea's first ideologies were schooled.

What emerges is a regime completely unlike the West's perception of it. This is neither a bastion of Stalinism nor a Confucian patriarchy, but a pranoid nationalist, "military-first" state on the far right of the political spectrum.

Since popular support for the North Korean regime now derives almost exclusively from pride in North Korea military might, Pyongyang can neither be cajoled nor bullied into giving up its nuclear program. The implications of US foreign policy—which has hitherto treated North Korea as the last outpost of the Cold War—are as obvious as they are troubling. With North Korea now calling for a "blood reckoning" with the "Yankee jackals," Myers's unprecedented analysis could not be more timely.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781933633916
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publication date: 01/26/2010
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

B.R. Myers was born in New Jersey and raised in Bermuda, South Africa and Germany. He has a Ph.D. in North Korean Studies from the University of Tübingen in Germany. His books include Han Sorya and North Korean Literature (Cornell East Asia Series, 1994) and A Reader’s Manifesto (Melville House, 2002). At present he directs the international studies department at Dongseo University in South Korea. In addition to writing literary criticism for the American magazine The Atlantic, of which he is a contributing editor, Myers regularly contributes articles on North Korea to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and academic publications.

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The Cleanest Race 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Podo More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I've read on north Korea. If you're looking for a history book on the Korean War, this is not it. What this book is, is an unconventional and insightful look at the poeple and gov't of north Korea, how they look at the world, and how the government maintains control. The book changed how I read news articles on the north. The book flips conventional wisdom on its head, as it pertains to how the US and other nations deal with them. I hope the author updates the book to cover the transition to Kim Jong Eun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Real on the ground info here about a place thats not called The Hermit Kingdom for nothing. The author puts up a lot of support for his thesis that North Korea is not really a communist dictatorship but a nationalist and racial one. Great inside look at how the North's regime and its people view themselves and the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book for those interested in the mysterious DPRK. It should be noted though that it assumes a certain level of knowledge about the country so it may not suit those new to the subject.
g026r on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interpretation of North Korea, their view of themselves, and their view of their relationship with the rest of the world, as derived from their internal arts and propaganda. While the author makes some interesting claims, and his thesis certainly presents a differing way of viewing the country from the standard Western analysis, it suffers from two primaries flaws:The first is a simple stylistic one, and that is the amount of sniping at authors of DPRK books and articles whom the author disagrees with that occurs, frequently by name.The second is that, for all the interesting perspectives into the DPRK that his interpretation carries, frequently it feels like there's little supporting evidence presented. A story or painting is mentioned, you're told how to interpret it, and how this further reenforces the author's hypothesis.An easy and fairly quick read, but a bit of a disappointment versus what I was hoping for.
TheAmpersand on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I purchased "The Cleanest Race" after it was recommended by Christopher Hitchens, my favorite belligerent, hard-drinking, bitterly confrontational former Marxist. In it, B.R. Myers offers a consistent, and at times convincing, argument that North Korea's current dictatorship has more in common with the Japanese ultranationalists who colonized the country in the first half of the twentieth century than the Communists states that it is more commonly associated with and that a fierce, xenophobic race-consciousness is now the regime's only remaining reason for being. Myers, who claims to have researched Korean-language primary sources that other observers ignore, presents good synopses of recent Korean history, its relationships with its neighbors, and the national myths that motivate both its leadership and much of its population. The book also contains numerous illustrations which readers fascinated by the out-and-out weirdness of the DPRK propaganda machine will find instructive, and Myers's analyses of these seem perceptive and on-target. Casual observers of North Korea, like myself, will perhaps be less fascinated by the potshots that Myers takes at other academics, but this book's subject matter is relatively narrow, and it isn't necessarily aimed at a general audience. "The Cleanest Race" is still recommended to those who wish to understand the most repressive, and perhaps the most bizarre, government on earth a bit better.
ben_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Short, compelling read on the North Korean propaganda state. Notable claims include:1. That the core propaganda tropes of the DPRK derive from racist nationalism made popular during Japan's dominance of the peninsula prior to WWII -- and thus state ideology should be seen more as a belligerent racial nationalism than a Marxist or Confucian ideology2. That Juche serves, essentially, as a sham ideology: there is no doctrine, there are no implications, it's just a phrase thrown about because of course a Great Leader (Kim the Elder) in the age of Lenin and Mao has his own Great System. But there is no content here guiding any action3. That the kind of 'double-minded' approach to official ideology one remembers from former communist countries is far less prevalent than one would imagine. (As one might expect when a countries experience with any form of modernity is coextensive with the existence of a modern state propaganda)Recommended.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book, a bit disjointed but the information is good. If you have an interest in North Korea this is a good book that gives you a good foundation for it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can tell the author did a lot of research I recommend !!