Dith Pran, the Cambodian photojournalist portrayed by Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields, compiled this collection of eyewitness accounts to the genocide perpetrated by Pol Pot's regime from 1975 to 1979. All of the survivors who recount their stories here were children when the Khmer Rouge took power, and the horrific images from a time when an estimated third of the Cambodian population died of disease, starvation, and execution remain fixed in their minds to this day.
The bleakness of evil made commonplace permeates these testaments. "There was a man who was friends with a woman, and they had a friendly chat under a tree," one woman writes. "Pol Pot saw them and accused them of having an affair... Pol Pot tied them up on a cross and then told everyone to watch the couple being questioned and hit. The lady was pregnant and was hit until she lost the baby and died. The man was also beaten to death." As Cambodians struggle to rebuild their lives and nation, books such as this make sure that they--and we--will never forget the depths from which they have been forced to rise.
From Library Journal
In this collection of 29 reminiscences by Cambodian refugees and assembled by a photojournalist for the New York Times, the brutality of the Khmer Rouge supports the theme that the forces of holocaust have emerged as a dominant aspect of civilization. The authors were children ranging from ages five through 17 during Cambodia's dominance by the Communist Khmer Rouge. Most of them came from middle-class urban families and suffered a series of horrifying experiences until the invasion by the Vietnamese and their subsequent escape through Thailand to the United States. Their stories coalesce into a common account of being driven from their home, often witnessing the murders of their family, and enduring disease, starvation, and beatings. In the main, their writings are simple, straightforward narratives. Despite the absence of historical or sociological method, the work bears a sense of painful credibility. Recommended for public libraries?John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant
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