The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot

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

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
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Tells the riveting story of how Kim Il Sung grabbed power and plunged his country into war against the United States while the youngest fighter pilot in his air force was playing a high-risk game of deception--and escape. As Kim ascended from Soviet puppet to godlike ruler, No Kum Sok noisily pretended to love his Great Leader. That is, until he swiped a Soviet MiG-15 and delivered it to the Americans, not knowing they were offering a $100,000 bounty for the warplane (the equivalent of nearly one million dollars today). The theft--just weeks after the Korean War ended in July 1953--electrified the world and incited Kim's bloody vengeance. During the Korean War the United States brutally carpet bombed the North, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and giving the Kim dynasty, as Harden reveals, the fact-based narrative it would use to this day to sell paranoia and hatred of Americans. Drawing on documents from Chinese and Russian archives about the role of Mao and Stalin in Kim's shadowy rise, as well as from never-before-released U.S. intelligence and interrogation files, Harden gives us a heart-pounding escape adventure and an entirely new way to understand the world's longest-lasting totalitarian state.
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2015
ISBN: 9780670016570
0670016578
Characteristics: x, 290 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates ; illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

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p
publicenemy45
Dec 16, 2016

I like this book well writing. the story of No Kum Sok. was fascinating.

m
McBainF1
Apr 26, 2016

A fantastic story of two contrasting lives. The book is hard to put down and it is really hard not to become emotionally attached to No Kum-Sok. Highly recommended for anyone looking to read about the rise of the Kim family backdropped with No's desire to leave it.

A fine read.

b
bookwormjeph
Jul 01, 2015

A very readable account of North Korea's descent into what it is today. It is told in a narrative that juxtaposes the rise of the Kims and a NK fighter pilot who escaped in his planer to South Korea and eventually to the USA at the end of the Korean War. Rather insightful as I didn't know much about NK and now that I know a bit more, the state of the country and the treatment of it's people horrifies me even more.

multcolib_darceem Apr 18, 2015

Just like I never thought I'd be interested in Olympic rowing before reading The Boys in the Boat, I couldn't have imagined being particularly interested in the history of jet fighters before reading this title. The fact that I couldn't put this book down is a testament not just to this fascinating story and uncovered history, but also to the authors writing. Operation Moolah?! Whaaaat?!

a
athena14
Apr 04, 2015

The tones in which Harden writes his not-so-parallel biographies put me off. "The Great Leader" is a comic book villain. The fighter pilot, who should have told his story in his own words, seems a cunning opportunist, not the hero Harden sees.

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