Posted by: koolwine | October 31, 2010

Cambodia: First They Killed My Father

A woman recounts her years living under Pol Pot’s communist regime.

Country Focus: Cambodia (Kampuchea in Khmer)

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
Loung Ung
Originally published: HarperCollins, 2000.
My edition: Harper Perennial, 2001.
238 pgs.

Acclaim: National Bestseller

To make a long story short: When the Khmer Rouge army entered Phnom Penh in 1975, five-year-old Loung Ung, her parents, three brothers and three sisters were forced to flee their home in the capital city.  The Ungs, along with thousands of other refugees, were trucked to rural villages run by the Khmer Rouge.  There, they were forced to work twelve hour days in the fields, listen to communist propaganda at night, and forbidden to socialize with others.  Out of fear for their lives, the family separated.  As she and her loved ones succumbed to starvation and violence, fiesty Loung channeled her hatred and fear into a palpable strength that carried her through the next five years, until the Vietnamese defeated the Khmer Rouge and she escaped to America.


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  1. I had an interesting conversation with a psychiatric nurse who spoke of a delusional patient who is paranoid. She revealed no identity but deescribed how she was “involved in some awful war in Cambodia”…Those victims still live among us painfully fragmented.


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