Event and Appearances

"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

"One of the most important and devastating accounts of life inside a totalitarian society."
—Commentary

"A valentine in disguise. . . . [An] evocation of the emotional space Jenkins and his bride, Hitomi Soga, claimed for themselves, even under the cruel gaze of the Kims."
—The Atlantic

"An amazing and heroic story."
—Indianapolis Star

"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

"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

"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