When we decided to go to Cambodia I wanted to understand the history a bit better, especially the genocide in the 70ies that led to the loss of lives of millions of innocent Cambodians. I came across the book ‘First they killed my father’, written by Laung Ung, who as a child witnessed the horrific brutality of Pol Pot’s regime.
first they killed my father
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 being cheeky to her parents.

When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Loung’s family fled their home and were eventually forced to disperse to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier while her brothers and sisters were sent to labour camps. The surviving siblings were only finally reunited after the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia and started to destroy the Khmer Rouge.

To read this book was like having your heart torn out. You read it and wonder how this was allowed to happen and where the rest of the world was when all of this was going on. If you ever thought that the problems of the world weren’t yours then this book will change your mind. This book will make you want to get up and do something, as you cannot read it and not be affected by Laung’s story.

I have never cried reading a book before, but boy did I cry with this one. I had to apologise to all the commuters who had to witness tears flooding down my face or listen to my sniffing on the train, but this book really touched me. Try and read it if you can!

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About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

5 Thoughts on “First they killed my father – A book review

  1. This book has been on my list for quite some time. I heard about it while we were in Cambodia, but I couldn’t find it at the time. Thanks for the reminder!
    Tamara (@Turtlestravel) recently posted…White Sands National Monument, New MexicoMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on October 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm said:

      Shame you couldn’t find it while you were there. You can also buy it on Amazon actually. That’s where I bought it.

  2. I also read this book to gain a deeper understanding of Cambodia’s troubled past. The book was very vivid, disturbing at times, and yet amazing to see how she came through everything that she endured. There is also a sequel – Lucky Child – about how she was able to finally come to the US, & later reunite with a sister who stayed in Cambodia.

  3. I hear they are making a movie of it, but I don’t think I could watch it. I read the book and it broke my heart. I didn’t know there is a sequel, so I’ll check it out!
    RunawayBrit recently posted…Stockholm ICEBAR: ‘The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway’My Profile

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