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Alive in the Killing Fields: Surviving the Khmer Rouge Genocide Hardcover – October 13, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up—At age nine, Keat was rousted from his bed by Khmer Rouge soldiers. After savagely murdering most of his family, they shot him three times and left him for dead. Miraculously, he survived, only to spend the next few years fighting for his life and running from the Khmer Rouge along with his remaining family members. Eventually, he and his siblings made their way to a refugee camp where his older sister bought his freedom. In this memoir, written with the assistance of his college professor, Keat paints a poignant portrait of life as a child in Cambodia in the 1970s. His skills, cunning, and sheer will to survive enabled him to endure devastating occurrences and difficult living conditions. The story is not for the faint of heart, as suffering torture at the hands of soldiers, subsisting solely off of rice chaff, and being forced to sleep among human remains are only some of the atrocities he suffered. Keat's story is compelling and concise, and readers will find themselves invested in his eventual escape.—Kelly McGorray, Glenbard South High School, Glen Ellyn, IL END

About the Author

Nawuth Keat survived the horrors of war in Cambodia, escaped to Thailand, and came to the U.S. as a teen. Now an American citizen, he understands what freedom means. He lives with his wife and children in Hollister, CA.

Martha E. Kendall has written several nonfiction books for children including National Geographic’s The Erie Canal. Kendall attended the Eastman School of Music, where she studied the cello. She sings and plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar, penny whistle, and bass. She lives in Los Gatos, CA.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books; 1 edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142630515X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426305153
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
His mother said they were "poor uneducated peasants, thieves, drunks, and fugitives" and the family had to be on their guard at all times because no one knew when they would arrive in Salatrave. Bunpah, or "Mop" as his family nicknamed him, was only nine years old and really didn't understand what the Khmer Rouge was. Their leader, Pol Pot, and his band of thugs would raid Cambodian villages and kill with no rhyme or reason, claiming they were "saviors." They came one night and the family began to run in the darkness, but their unsuccessful flight got them nowhere. Mop was shot three times and later claimed that a ditch quickly "filled with my family's blood." He survived, but would he ever really live again?

Mop and a few surviving family members had to struggle to survive under thumbs of the men dressed in black. He survived his painful wounds, but he claimed that his "misery was just beginning." In order to forget the graphic memory of his mother and baby sister's deaths he had to keep repeating to himself, "Do not think about it. Do not think about it," but the memories would not go away. He was quickly turned into a slave for these madmen. Working in the rice fields relentlessly day after day began to physically take its toll on Mop and his siblings. If starvation didn't take his people the Khmer Rouge were more than willing to help them out. The people struggling in the rice paddies knew that "anyone who complained would be shot or beaten to death with a hammer or hoe." Would any of them survive to tell their story or would they all be buried in the killing fields?

This very graphic, sobering story of a young boy's efforts to survive during the reign of the Khmer Rouge was stunning. Once I picked up this book I didn't set it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Brooks on October 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very personal account of the Khmer Rouge but not the most detailed I have read. Survival in the Killing Fields by Haing Ngor is by far the most gripping, detailed and graphic account that I have read. This book is worth reading but I would recommend the other book first. This way you will have a firm background as to what was going on in the country at the time and what it was like to be displaced from the city.
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By bikinmary on June 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an eye-opener for me. Even though I was a teen during this Cambodian conflict, I never knew the details of how awful it was for those people. It is educational to read about this but yet it certainly was not a fun read. It was depressing for me to learn about this and how awful the regime was back then. But it's something I think everyone should know - even today.
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By Gabrielle R. St.Ives on March 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have always heard about the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge, but never actually read such a detailed description and account of it. The treatment of the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge showed the lowest level of human life...I am shocked at the things that go around in the world that I know so little about. Well Written.
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By kayis on August 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of my favourites. This was one of those books I could not put down once I'd started it. Having not read books for years this was perhaps the one that got me addicted to reading after a looong break! I recommend to those interested in the khmer rouge years and survival stories.
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Format: Hardcover
I am in Cambodia, I would like to understand Cambodian. It is good way to understand them by reading their books. This book showed the picture of this country under Khmer Rouge control. If the writing was better, I would mark it as five stars.
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