First They Killed My Father

If you don’t know anything about the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot and the mass genocide that occurred from 1975 to 1979 in Cambodia, you need to.  I am still appalled at how such a horrific incident like this can happen without intervention from the rest of the world.  It’s not like no one knew what was happening… 

First They Killed My Father is a survivor story by Loung Ung, through her eyes while a child, on how she survived the genocide [The Khmer Rouge killed about 2 million of their own people, or 1/4 of the Cambodian population, not to mention the United States bombing of Cambodia that occurred from 1970-1973 which estimates suggest killed an additional 250,000].  The book can be graphic and disgusting and horrific, which is exactly how it should make you feel.  It is very detailed and it is so much more powerful being written in the present tense.  First They Killed My Father is heart-wrenching, well-written and thoroughly depressing memoir of what happened during the insane and brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge. 

This book is a definite must-read for anyone interested in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge or the strength of the human spirit. 

P.S.  One of the most difficult (read: best) articles that I have ever read about the Khmer Rouge, and specifically the prison Tuol Sleng (aka S-21), was done by GQ- here is the link.  During my three day quest to read the entire article (GQ has looooong articles), I had to put it down several times due to a feeling of hopelessness that overtook me.  It is crazy how the Khmer Rouge could torture and kill their own people and even worse; how they killed them.