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

Updated 14 June 2018
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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: Democracy and Prosperity by Torben Iversen and David Soskice

Updated 17 January 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Democracy and Prosperity by Torben Iversen and David Soskice

It is a widespread view that democracy and the advanced nation-state are in crisis, weakened by globalization and undermined by global capitalism, in turn explaining rising inequality and mounting populism. 

This book, written by two of the world’s leading political economists, argues this view is wrong: Advanced democracies are resilient, and their enduring historical relationship with capitalism has been mutually beneficial, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

For all the chaos and upheaval over the past century — major wars, economic crises, massive social change, and technological revolutions — Torben Iversen and David Soskice show how democratic states continuously reinvent their economies through massive public investment in research and education, by imposing competitive product markets and cooperation in the workplace, and by securing macroeconomic discipline as the preconditions for innovation and the promotion of the advanced sectors of the economy.