... a book on the subject which is readable, as up-to-date as possible (North Korea changes fast), and fun to read. Anna Fifield is one of very few western journalists who have been reporting on North Korea — including as a correspondent for the Financial Times — for over a decade ... brims with important and exclusive information about the Kim family and personality of the 'brilliant comrade' himself ... goes beyond the realm of Pyongyang court gossip. Fifield has talked to a number of ordinary North Koreans whose stories create a rich tapestry of life in the country over the past 20 to 30 years as it has evolved from a hyper-Stalinist dictatorship to a very unusual but still distinctly post-socialist country.
Anna Fifield forcefully demonstrates that the North Korean leader is far more savvy, ambitious and ruthless than his ludicrous nicknames suggest. Writing a biography of Kim is a notoriously difficult undertaking. False information abounds, and testimonies of North Korean escapees and refugees can be unreliable. To overcome these hurdles, Fifield has cross-checked a wealth of facts, relied on extensive primary and secondary sources, and engaged in old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting ... The Great Successor is a hard-earned, comprehensive portrait of Kim and his country’s uncertain future ... essential reading for anyone seeking insight on one of the world’s least-understood leaders.
... a welcome addition to the political literature ... Fifield skillfully leverages what little information is available from these years with more gleaned recently ... Through no fault of Fifield's, Kim is instead an object viewed from outside; a creature propelled along by events and his stage managers rather than living among humanity ... Contrary to prevailing stereotypes, in this story Kim is anything but a madman. Cold-blooded for sure, but playing a calculated defensive strategy aimed at standing up his rule ... Fifield offers us intriguing tidbits from Kim's childhood.