What We Are Reading Today: A Corpse in the Koryo, by James Church

Updated 14 June 2018
0

What We Are Reading Today: A Corpse in the Koryo, by James Church

Secretive North Korea is not an obvious choice as the location for a detective story, not least because it is so impenetrable to the outsider.

But Asia specialists say this novel offers a vivid window into the mysterious country.

One expert called it “the best unclassified account of how North Korea works and why it has survived all these years.”

The protagonist is Inspector O, whose investigation into a murder at the Koryo Hotel pitches him into a deadly contest between powerful factions in the regime.

The nation’s leader is never mentioned by name, but his shadow stalks every chapter. The inspector is a man struggling to hold on to his humanity in a world where humanity has little value.

The depth of detail is perhaps less surprising when you learn that James Church is the nom de plume of a former Western intelligence officer who spent years in Korea.

But it more than justifies the verdict of Newt Gingrich, the former Republican US presidential hopeful, who declared the book “a must-read” for anyone trying to understand the Kim dynasty of dictators.

This truly original thriller is about much more than a crime investigation.


What We Are Reading Today: Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Updated 23 May 2019
0

What We Are Reading Today: Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

  • The author also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character

Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father of the US who rose up the social ladder, from a leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings. In bestselling author Walter Isaacson’s vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin seems to turn to us from history’s stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles, says a review published on goodreads.com.

By bringing Franklin to life, Isaacson shows how he helped to define both his own time and ours. 

He was, during his 84-year life, America’s best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical—though not most profound—political thinkers. 

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. 

The author also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the 21st century.