One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung's family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed. Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung's powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.
©2000 Loung Ung (P)2011 Tantor
"Ung's memoir should serve as a reminder that some history is best not left just to historians but to those left standing when the terror ends." (Booklist)
Yes. it was a difficult read, so I had to pick it up and put it down, but it was captivating and tragic.
I don't believe I have... but I will have to check out more of her material; she did an amazing job on this one.
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
The trials held against some of the last surviving perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide this past October really had me interested in looking into some of books out there on the subject. After listening to the deplorable "Soul of a Tiger," "First They Killer My Father" was so hard hitting as to be almost unbearable. It's extraordinary the way Loung Ung's character develops from a naive, whiny child (whiny because she hasn't a clue as to how dangerous the situation is) to a desperate individual who would do anything to survive, even if it means stealing food, killing sparrows, whatever. This is starvation and desperation at its most devastating.
This is not a light listen, but it's a good one. Just be prepared for some heartbreak, some hopelessness. But some love there too.
That said, you'll never think of earthworms the same way again...
the whole story -a recall of a terrible time
the most tragic was when they took her father away, very very moving!
it made me appreciate the wonderful live I have and how easily this could be taken away1
The atrocities surrounding events in this book sound like they should be deep in our past; however they were merely 30 years ago. This is an amazing and heartbreaking story told from the inside through the eyes of an intelligent young girl. I have recommended this book to many family and friends. It really does show all sides of human nature and opens your eyes to what people are capable of. A must read!
I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. The only thing that I wish there had been was more historical and factual information about the reign of pol pot. As far as a first person memoir in an event like this, this book was well told and easy to listen to. I will have my kids listen to this when they are old enough. Because of details of rape, I would say 13+
Luong Ung's story is incredibly terrifying, powerful, and riveting. It describes the horrors of genocide in Cambodia from the perspective of a child in a masterful narrative. She takes some liberties with her story telling, such as writing in present tense and including some fictional, mystical elements, but I don't think any of these choices are problematic. This is the kind of book I would make sure my children read (if I had children). I absolutely recommend it to anyone.
I found Tavia Gilbert's narration to be bothersome at first. She puts on a somewhat high pitched, whiney intonation; I suppose it's to sound more like a child. Once I got accustomed, and was sucked into the story, it no longer bothered me.
The whole book is written in a very patronizing way, using very western cliches in a story set in a completely different culture just does not fit. It felt like it was written much like a nice screenplay vs a real recounting of facts
She had a tone of voice that made me want to eat glass just to make it stop
I would still love to live in Cambodia and learn more about the people there, the book didn't kill that so I guess thats good
The last days last few days I've been researching the Cambodian genocide, and recently began listening to the book "First They Killed My Father."
It is the most emotionally affecting thing I have ever read or heard. Sadly, few Americans know of it.
Pol Pot, a communist, an idealist, thought that he had a better solution than the marketplace for distributing resources and forcibly evacuated the capital city of Phnom Penh. In the countryside, 2.2 million people died in anguish because one man used the power of government to fulfill his idea that he could come up with a better way for humans to live and distribute resources than capitalism. The people were forced into villages and forced to labor, food was distributed communally and clothing was even rigorously enforced to ensure that no one stood above the others. Forced equality. If you were suspected of being a capitalist, your life would be snuffed. In fact, if you wore eyeglasses, it was an indication that you were literate, and your life was taken by the government. But, the reality was that corruption reigned, with leaders choosing how to redistribute resources. Everyone suffered, but not equally. The politically connected survived, taking from those that worked hard by force, not through mutually beneficial trade. Millions died because of Pol Pot's arrogance and because of forced income redistribution.
Nobody took a stand. Like the frog in the pot, they slowly suffered, hoping it would get better.
It truly reminds me of the president of the United States, a man who forces his agenda on the American people in the name of equality, disregarding all common sense and completely disregarding the marketplace. Neither man wants to inflict terrible hardship, but they think they have a better way. We all pay for their arrogance.
It also reminds me why I am proud to be an American. An American is not a people, or an area contained by borders, to be an American is to believe that you as an individual are free and what you have made is yours.
As an American, I am proud that we have the Second Amendment. Despite what the liberals say, it is crystal clear as to the intent of what the Second Amendment was. Our founders intended every able bodied man to own a weapon, and if the contractual agreement between the government and the people of America was ever violated, every able-bodied citizen was to rise up to utterly destroy it.
When I hear these horrible stories of these families suffering in anguish, it reminds me of my family and what I would do if my little 9 month son were somehow harmed.
In Cambodia, nobody rose up to stop these thugs, the government. They were a mob and sanctioned by the government, they raped and they took. They were able to, because there was no one to fight back.
I own a AR-15, a weapon of war, that if necessary, I will turn on my own government to defend my family. I am not ashamed to speak openly of it any longer. I will not die as a slave. I will definitely die someday, but I will die free, one way or the other.
I challenge you to read this book to remind you of why freedom is important, and what freedom really is.
I have a DLitt and Phil Degree which must imply a level of discernment? I just clocked over at 60. The significance is that I have read a whole lot of books. I'm now revisiting some of my all time favourites - and enjoying some first time round books. Books are my friends. Audible is JUST AMAZING - takes me back to pre -TV days, with my ear pressed to a crackly transistor radio - but now SO MUCH better and more 'classy' from a Kindle!
How clever - a 12 year old protagonist - this author captured the excitement, the naivete, the trusting nature and the sheer gullibility of this child. Beautifully narrated and hopeful throughout the dire and dreadful circumstances and events that our heroine was faced with, this story was intense yet light. Inspirational and an interesting way to portray characters - particularly adults. In this way the author steered one away from blame and hatred of the characters towards empathy and understanding. The way the story advanced and the detail presented was quite absorbing and the unhappy happy ending was believable. Loved this book. Vale!
"Mind bogling. "
Hard to listen to in places. A diary of a most shameful period in human history. Important that it is known and learned from.
A very touching and descriptive tale of a child's experience of the war in cambodia. Well told and beautifully written.
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