June 04, 2023

Book review: Kim Il Sung and the dictators that dance on bones

In North Korea, only one version of history exists – a common theme in all authoritarian states, Katie Stallard writes

As a harbinger of things to come, Dancing on Bones: History and Power in China, Russia, and North Korea by Katie Stallard starts with one of Orwell’s most oft-repeated lines: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” Having read the book, one can’t help but think the more appropriate choice would have been, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.” 

For this is a book about the human suffering inflicted on innocent populations by 20th-century dictators, the reverberations still being felt in various degrees today.