The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un (Paperback)
Since his birth in 1984, Kim Jong Un has been swaddled in myth and propaganda, from the plainly silly -- he could supposedly drive a car at the age of three -- to the grimly bloody stories of family members who perished at his command.
About the Author
Anna Fifield is the Tokyo bureau chief for the Washington Post, focusing on Japan and the Koreas. Previously she worked for the Financial Times for thirteen years. During her time there, she reported from almost twenty countries, from Iran and Libya to North Korea and Australia. During the 2013-2014 academic year, she was a Nieman journalism fellow at Harvard, studying how change happens in closed societies. Her work has appeared in Slate, and she has been a regular commentator on radio and television, including NPR.
A Financial Times Best Book of the Year—-
"There is, quite simply, no journalist in any language who has done more to unearth and tell the astounding story of Kim Jong Un than Anna Fifield. The Great Successor slashes through myths to yield the first essential and vivid biography of the man and his era."—Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
that few other journalists, myself included, have ever been able to claim
mastery over this most elusive subject."
"With a journalist's eye for detail and with the gift of a storyteller, Anna Fifield has written the quintessential bible on Kim Jong Un. No one working to solve the North Korean puzzle should let The Great Successor sit on a bookshelf; it's a must-read."—Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs and author of Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power, and Persistence
"An important, riveting, and detailed account of the rise of Kim Jong Un. Anna Fifield, who is an intrepid reporter and a lively writer, breaks important new ground in The Great Successor. Drawing on a broad array of sources, including remarkable defector accounts, she paints a disturbing portrait of a country fueled by heady delusions of military strength; a potent, bizarre ideology; an unflinching devotion to nuclear weapons; and a disturbing addiction to crystal methamphetamine. Spoiler alert: be prepared for a lot of gore."—Evans J.R. Revere, senior advisor with the Albright Stonebridge Group and former senior state department official with 50 years of experience working on Korea
"I loved reading Anna Fifield when she had the Korea beat for the Post, and now she has outdone herself with the first English language biography of the most opaque and mysterious leader in the world. Carefully crafted from her reporting with additional research, field work, and exclusive interviews with those close to and in the Kim family, The Great Successor peels back the layers to reveal Kim Jong Un's psyche and the ominous future of the country over which he presides. A must read for the general and expert reader!"—Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Center for International and Strategic Studies and author of The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future
"The Great Successor shows how a pudgy young heir to tyranny-using fratricide, nuclear terror, crony capitalism, and strategic flattery of a vain American president-has become a sure-footed Machiavelli for the twenty-first century. In this devastating portrait of the latest dictator named Kim, Anna Fifield expertly dissects North Korea's first family of despotism."—Blaine Harden, author of Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
"The Great Successor is a tour de force of reporting. Anna Fifield has penetrated the secrecy and myths surrounding Kim Jong Un to provide a remarkable, multi-layered portrait of North Korea's youthful and enigmatic leader. The ruler depicted in this book, which is based on Fifield's interviews with an impressive range of people who have had contact with Kim or experience inside his system, plus insights gleaned from her own travel as a journalist in North Korea, is not the bomb-throwing 'rocket man' so often mocked and caricatured. Instead, Kim Jong Un comes across as smart, ruthless, diplomatically savvy, and determined to survive at all costs. An essential guide to understanding the man who could well be in charge of North Korea for decades."—Mike Chinoy, former CNN senior Asia correspondent and author of Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis
"More than a biography; The Great Successor is also an important portrait of a nation that will present enormous challenges to the world."—Nicholas Kristof, New York Times
"Fun to read.... The Great Successor brims with important and exclusive information"—Financial Times
"North Korea watchers will walk away from The Great Successor with a fuller picture of a changing North Korea and its people, as well as a rich tapestry of interesting anecdotes about the young leader's life. More casual observers, in turn, could not ask for a better introduction to an enigmatic country and its curious leadership."—NK News
"The Great Successor is essential reading for anyone seeking insight on one of the world's least-understood leaders."—Washington Post
"The veteran Washington Post correspondent has produced a macabre portrait of a ruling dynasty that has inexplicably survived for seven decades."—Los Angeles Times
"Anna Fifield's The Great Successor is elegantly written and exhaustively researched. Fifield tracks down everyone outside North Korea who has met Kim, from school friends to servants to family members in hiding under false names...The story Fifield tells, as befits the supreme ruler of a bizarrely unique country, is vivid to say the least."—The Guardian
"Anna Fifield sheds new light on North Korea's leader in her biography of the absolute dictator...putting pretty much all the currently available information between the covers of a single book represents a welcome contribution to the literature."
—Brad Martin, Asia Times