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Publisher's Summary

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
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Critic Reviews

"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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Gillian on 01-27-15

Brutal, Heartbreaking

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...

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful


By Daryl on 07-31-12

An eye-opening look into an unknown world

Would you listen to First They Killed My Father again? Why?

Yes. it was a difficult read, so I had to pick it up and put it down, but it was captivating and tragic.

Have you listened to any of Tavia Gilbert’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By GRAHAMBELL1981 on 05-18-15

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.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Jay Acharya on 10-08-17

Gripped from the first line

This is an autobiographical view of a young girl who has witnessed so much and experienced so much at such a young age. Luong Ung, like many young children her age was displaced from her comfortable life to that of something I could never describe the way she did in her book. Considering this was in the 1970’s, the story I am sure resonates today in the harsh and unpredictable landscape we live in today.

The book is far superior to the movie, which is amazing - but the story is more detailed from such a young naive and innocent mind and frantic and dramatic and most of all true! Although written by an older Luong, she has captured her younger selfs thoughts amazingly.

Tavia Gilbert read the story with a gift of expression that could only be captured by someone with her talents.

I truly enjoyed this story from start to finish. With tears in my eyes at many points and also a few laughs, as of course it is a child telling a story. But the times listening to this during my long flights instead of watching movies, flight attendants kept making sure I was ok as they were watching a grown man with tears In his eyes.

Simply beautiful. Engaging. Thought provoking. True.

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Customer Reviews

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By Viviane Ara�jo on 01-21-15

One of the best books I have had read!

Speechless after such a intense life for a little girl who proved to be strong as her Pa always thought she would be.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Karen on 06-03-16

She used her horrific life experience to help many

This book gave me a greater understanding of the suffering individuals endured during Pol Pot's reign of terror.

The narration by Tavia, intensified the experiences and emotions that Luong, her family and others endured. Loung did not sugarcoat her experiences and thoughts. She described with openness and honesty what she experienced, how she reacted to those experiences and the thoughts that filled her mind.

It is good to see that Loung has not only survived this horrific experience, she has also been able to help many people.

Parents should listen and decide if their child is emotionally mature enough to listen or read this book.

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