In a mesmerizing story, Chanrithy Him vividly recounts her trek through the hell of the "killing fields." She gives us a child's-eye view of a Cambodia where rudimentary labor camps for both adults and children are the norm and modern technology no longer exists. Death becomes a companion in the camps, along with illness. Yet through the terror, the members of Chanrithy's family remain loyal to one another, and she and her siblings who survive will find redeemed lives in America.
A Finalist for the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize.
Chanrithy Him, born in 1965, lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she works for the Khmer Adolescent Project, studying post-traumatic stress disorder among Cambodians.
Until the age of five, Loung 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 Loung 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. Loung 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 courage and sacrifices of the rest of her family—and sustained by her sister’s gentle kindness amid brutality—Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life. Harrowing yet hopeful, insightful and compelling, this story is truly unforgettable.
Blending technical information with personal stories and humor, this memoir reminisces about a life well lived.
This is an extremely pleasant walk through reminiscences in the life of a true neurosurgical giant. Colleagues and laity will gather much from his lifewell-lived and hard-workedand the sage lessons derived from the collisions of past and present, success and failure, hope and despair, are eloquently described in this story of dedication and devotion from the humble humanity of this remarkable man. I highly recommend the read.
John L. D. Atkinson MD, FACS, Professor of Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota
This book is an inspiring odyssey. Its elegant prose describes the character and accomplishments of a premier neurosurgeon. His intellect and surgical prowess are responsible for important technical and conceptual advances in the challenging field of neurological surgery. This is a chronicle of a true surgeons surgeon, a valued educator, and a role model for many of his peers.
Edward R. Laws, MD, FACS, Professor of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School
The testimonies related here bear poignant witness to the slaughter the Khmer Rouge inflicted on the Cambodian people. The contributors -- most of them now in the United States and pictured in photographs that accompany their stories -- report on life in Democratic Kampuchea as seen through children's eyes. They speak of their bewilderment and pain as Khmer Rouge cadres tore their families apart, subjected them to harsh brainwashing, drove them from their homes to work in forced-labor camps, and executed captives in front of them. Their stories tell of suffering and the loss of innocence, the struggle to survive against all odds, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
In the three and a half years of Pol Pot's rule, more than a million Cambodians, a fifth of the country's population, were executed or died from hunger. An idealistic and reclusive figure, Pol Pot sought to instill in his people values of moral purity and self-abnegation through a revolution of radical egalitarianism. In the process his country descended into madness, becoming a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which obedience was enforced on the killing fields.
How did a utopian dream of shared prosperity mutate into one of the worst nightmares humanity has ever known? To understand this almost inconceivable mystery, Philip Short explores Pol Pot's life from his early years to his death. Short spent four years traveling throughout Cambodia interviewing the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge movement, many of whom have never spoken before, including Pol Pot's brother-in-law and the former Khmer Rouge head of state. He also sifted through the previously closed archives of China, Russia, Vietnam, and Cambodia itself to trace the fate of one man and the nation that he led into ruin.
This powerful biography reveals that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were not a one-off aberration but instead grew out of a darkness of the soul common to all peoples. Cambodian history and culture combined with intervention from the United States and other nations to set the stage for a disaster whose horrors echo loudly in the troubling events of our world today.