First published in Korean in 2016, Inside North Korea’s Theocracy offers a fascinating and rare look at the lives of several of the regime’s key leaders. Its primary focus is Jang Song-thaek, a talented and reform-minded member of the political ruling class who was executed in 2013. Jang was the son-in-law of North Korean founder, Kim Il-sung; brother-in-law of its second leader, Kim Jong-il; and uncle to its current leader, Kim Jong-un. The author traces Jang’s life from his youth as a brilliant student in Pyongyang to his eventual marriage to Kim Kyong-hui and his rising power as a businessman to, ultimately, his untimely death. In addition to biographical sketches of Jang, his wife, and brother-in-law, Ra Jong-yil provides first-hand impressions of life in North Korea and illuminates the inner workings of its government.
“If one could read only a single book to thoroughly understand the nature of the North Korean political system, the Kim family dynasty, and the forces that have combined in creating a unique authoritarian regime marked by deep and worsening structural flaws, Ra Jong-yil’s pathbreaking study of Jang Song-thaek is such a book. A preeminent watcher of North Korea coupled with top-level national security policy experiences, Ra presents a chilling and compelling story.” — Chung Min Lee, Senior Fellow and Director of the Korean Security Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
“…a rich biography of Mr. Jang, the most prominent victim of the purges his young nephew has conducted since assuming power in 2011.” — New York Times, on the Korean edition
Ra Jong-yil is University Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Gachon University and Chair Professor at National Defense University of Republic of Korea. A former deputy head of the South Korean intelligence service, Ra spent several years engaged in shuttle diplomacy between North and South Korea—a kind of work that is ongoing but never reported in the media. He met many of the individuals he discusses in the book, including Mr. Jang, and also obtained anonymous testimony from senior sources in China and North Korea itself.
Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin argue that Americans can revitalize their democracy and break the cycle of cynical media manipulation that is crippling public life. They propose a new national holiday—Deliberation Day—for each presidential election year. On this day people throughout the country will meet in public spaces and engage in structured debates about issues that divide the candidates in the upcoming presidential election.
Deliberation Day is a bold new proposal, but it builds on a host of smaller experiments. Over the past decade, Fishkin has initiated Deliberative Polling events in the United States and elsewhere that bring random and representative samples of voters together for discussion of key political issues. In these events, participants greatly increase their understanding of the issues and often change their minds on the best course of action.
Deliberation Day is not merely a novel idea but a feasible reform. Ackerman and Fishkin consider the economic, organizational, and political questions raised by their proposal and explore its relationship to the larger ideals of liberal democracy.
Once described by the Washington Post as “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of,” Pete Buttigieg, the thirty-seven-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has now emerged as one of the nation’s most visionary politicians. With soaring prose that celebrates a resurgent American Midwest, Shortest Way Home narrates the heroic transformation of a “dying city” (Newsweek) into nothing less than a shining model of urban reinvention.
Interweaving two narratives—that of a young man coming of age and a town regaining its economic vitality—Buttigieg recounts growing up in a Rust Belt city, amid decayed factory buildings and the steady soundtrack of rumbling freight trains passing through on their long journey to Chicagoland. Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s legacy, Buttigieg first left northern Indiana for red-bricked Harvard and then studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, before joining McKinsey, where he trained as a consultant—becoming, of all things, an expert in grocery pricing. Then, Buttigieg defied the expectations that came with his pedigree, choosing to return home to Indiana and responding to the ultimate challenge of how to revive a once-great industrial city and help steer its future in the twenty-first century.
Elected at twenty-nine as the nation’s youngest mayor, Pete Buttigieg immediately recognized that “great cities, and even great nations, are built through attention to the everyday.” As Shortest Way Home recalls, the challenges were daunting—whether confronting gun violence, renaming a street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., or attracting tech companies to a city that had appealed more to junk bond scavengers than serious investors. None of this is underscored more than Buttigieg’s audacious campaign to reclaim 1,000 houses, many of them abandoned, in 1,000 days and then, even as a sitting mayor, deploying to serve in Afghanistan as a Navy officer. Yet the most personal challenge still awaited Buttigieg, who came out in a South Bend Tribune editorial, just before being reelected with 78 percent of the vote, and then finding Chasten Glezman, a middle-school teacher, who would become his partner for life.
While Washington reels with scandal, Shortest Way Home, with its graceful, often humorous, language, challenges our perception of the typical American politician. In chronicling two once-unthinkable stories—that of an Afghanistan veteran who came out and found love and acceptance, all while in office, and that of a revitalized Rust Belt city no longer regarded as “flyover country”—Buttigieg provides a new vision for America’s shortest way home.
On March 16, 2018, just twenty-six hours before his scheduled retirement from the organization he had served with distinction for more than two decades, Andrew G. McCabe was fired from his position as deputy director of the FBI. President Donald Trump celebrated on Twitter: "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy."
In The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, Andrew G. McCabe offers a dramatic and candid account of his career, and an impassioned defense of the FBI's agents, and of the institution's integrity and independence in protecting America and upholding our Constitution.
McCabe started as a street agent in the FBI's New York field office, serving under director Louis Freeh. He became an expert in two kinds of investigations that are critical to American national security: Russian organized crime—which is inextricably linked to the Russian state—and terrorism. Under Director Robert Mueller, McCabe led the investigations of major attacks on American soil, including the Boston Marathon bombing, a plot to bomb the New York subways, and several narrowly averted bombings of aircraft. And under James Comey, McCabe was deeply involved in the controversial investigations of the Benghazi attack, the Clinton Foundation's activities, and Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.
The Threat recounts in compelling detail the time between Donald Trump's November 2016 election and McCabe's firing, set against a page-turning narrative spanning two decades when the FBI's mission shifted to a new goal: preventing terrorist attacks on Americans. But as McCabe shows, right now the greatest threat to the United States comes from within, as President Trump and his administration ignore the law, attack democratic institutions, degrade human rights, and undermine the U.S. Constitution that protects every citizen.
Important, revealing, and powerfully argued, The Threat tells the true story of what the FBI is, how it works, and why it will endure as an institution of integrity that protects America.