Written in the present tense, First They Killed My Father will put you right in the midst of the action--action you'll wish had never happened. It's a tough read, but definitely a worthwhile one, and the author's personality and strength shine through on every page. Covering the years from 1975 to 1979, the story moves from the deaths of multiple family members to the forced separation of the survivors, leading ultimately to the reuniting of much of the family, followed by marriages and immigrations. The brutality seems unending--beatings, starvation, attempted rape, mental cruelty--and yet the narrator (a young girl) never stops fighting for escape and survival. Sad and courageous, her life and the lives of her young siblings provide quite a powerful example of how war can so deeply affect children--especially a war in which they are trained to be an integral part of the armed forces. For anyone interested in Cambodia's recent history, this book shares a valuable personal view of events. --Jill Lightner
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"So sharp with pain that when I read it, the words plunged into me like a knife" (Jon Swain Sunday Times)
"There can be absolutely no doubt about the innate power of [Ung's] story, the passion with which she tells it or its enduring importance" (Washington Post Book World)
"Ung's memoir should serve as a reminder that some history is best not left just to historians but to those left behind when the terror ends" (Booklist)
"I was deeply affected by Loung’s book. It deepened my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it" (Angelina Jolie Pitt)
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