First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

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"This is a harrowing, compelling story. Evoking a child's voice and viewpoint, Ung has written a book filled with vivid and unforgettable details. I lost a night's sleep to this book because I literally could not put it down, and even when I finally did, I lost another night's sleep just from the sheer, echoing power of it."
-- Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face

From a childhood survivor of Cambodia's brutal Pol Pot regime comes an unforgettable narrative of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her family, and their triumph of spirit.

Until the age of five, Lounge Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. While her beautiful mother worried that Loung was a troublemaker -- that she stomped around like a thirsty cow -- her beloved father knew Lounge was a clever girl.

When Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung's family fled their home and moved from village to village to hide their identity, their education, their former life of privilege. Eventually, the family dispersed in order to survive.

Because Lounge was resilient and determined, she was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, while other siblings were sent to labor camps. As the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia, destroying the Khmer Rouge, Loung and her surviving siblings were slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother, the vision of the others -- and sustained be her sister's gentle kindness amid brutality -- Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life.

 

About Loung Ung

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An author, lecturer and activist, Loung Ung has advocated for equality, human rights, and justice in her native land and worldwide for more than fifteen years. Her memoir First They Killed My Father became a national bestseller and was the recipient of the 2001 Asian/Pacific American Librarians' Association award for "Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature" (APALA). Her second book, Lucky Child, was published to critical acclaim. Ung has been the subject of numerous television programs and documentary films and has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, London Sunday Times, Biography, Glamour, Jane, and Ms. magazines and has made appearances on The Diane Rehm Show, Talk of the Nation, Weekend Edition, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, The Today Show with Matt Lauer, Nightline and other news outlets. Ung lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband Mark Priemer.
 
Published January 26, 2000 by Harper. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In time, Loung’s father and mother were killed, her older sister and baby sister died of malnutrition and disease, and her older brothers and she were recruited to serve the Khmer Rouge.

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Publishers Weekly

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In 1975, Ung, now the national spokesperson for the Campaign for a Landmine-Free World, was the five-year-old child of a large, affluent family living in Phnom Penh, the cosmopolitan Cambodian capital

Jan 31 2000 | Read Full Review of First They Killed My Father: ...

The New York Times

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During the three years that the Khmer Rouge tried to create an agrarian utopia in Cambodia, two million people are believed to have died from execution, starvation and disease.

Apr 19 2000 | Read Full Review of First They Killed My Father: ...

Publishers Weekly

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In 1975, Ung, now the national spokesperson for the Campaign for a Landmine-Free World, was the five-year-old child of a large, affluent family living in Phnom Penh, the cosmopolitan Cambodian capital.

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Story Circle Book Reviews

©Copyright to the review is held by the writer (review posting date appears on the review page).

Jan 08 2001 | Read Full Review of First They Killed My Father: ...

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