In 2007, while traveling through South East Asia with my husband, I discovered an amazing woman called Loung Ung. Loung was born in Cambodia and survived Pol Pot’s regime and the Khmer Rouge’s genocide. Many members of Loung’s family did not survive the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities, but Loung was able to make her way (with her eldest brother and sister-in-law) to a refugee camp in Thailand, and later was sponsored to move to the USA. I got my hands on a photocopied version (the only version I could find!) of Loung’s first book, “First They Killed My Father”, when we were traveling through her native country, Cambodia. I actually bought and read her second book, “Lucky Child”, while in Cambodia, too. Reading Loung’s life stories while traveling through her home country was a powerful, life changing experience for me. Because I was in Cambodia (specifically Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Battambang) while reading Loung’s recollections of the Khmer Rouge and the genocide, her experiences were literally at my fingertips. Talk about bringing the (true) story to life!
This book is an emotionally taxing read, but it’s well worth it. Loung describes her experiences living in and surviving Pol Pot’s regime. She also tells of memories with her family and the struggles they endured to try and stay together during the Khmer Rouge invasion. Since “First They Killed My Father”, Loung Ung has written several more books about her experiences (including moving to the USA and meeting and marrying her American born husband). Loung is a renowned human rights activist and lecturer and has worked for various organizations such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She is changing the world with every word she speaks. If you enjoy learning and reading about human rights related issues and stories, you will love Loung Ung’s work!