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Haing Ngor: A Cambodian Odyssey Hardcover – February 2, 1988

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ngor spent four years as a "war slave" under the Khmer Rouge, experiencing severe torture, losing most of his family and posing as a former cab driver when in fact he had been a doctor. His account of what amounted to a living nightmare vividly conveys the extent of organized savagery that held sway in Cambodia from 1975 until the invasion by the North Vietnamese. Some of the details are so ugly that in three places the author suggests that "readers with sensitive feelings" skip the balance of a chapter. This is more than a recounting of his ordeal, however; Ngor goes a long way toward explaining why a land known for its shy and gentle people became the site of mass killings that reached genocidal proportions. He also provides an excellent account of the origins of the Khmer Rouge and the career of Pol Pot. The latter part of the book has to do with the almost incredible circumstances that led to an Academy Award for his role in the film The Killing Fields. A terrible and thrilling story.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Best known for his Oscar-winning role in The Killing Fields , Haing tells his life story, concentrating on his experiences in the hell that was Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. He lost most of his family; unable to admit his medical training (doctors and their families were marked for death), he watched helplessly as his wife died in childbirth; and he was repeatedly imprisoned and tortured. This frank and often horrifying narrative of survival is enriched by the author's attempts to understand incredible inhumanity, his perceptive discussion of events that led to the Khmer Rouge victory, and his description of the continuing suffering of Cambodians under North Vietnamese occupation and as refugees in Thailand. For adult readers. Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1st edition (February 2, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0025893300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0025893306
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,582,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm twelve years old and have never read a book as heart-wrencing as this one. Haing Ngor suffered the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime. He was tortured three times. Then the Vietnamese came and "liberated"Cambodia, at which point Haing fled to Thailand. From there he came to the United States, where he starred in "The Killing Fields". The suffering of Haing Ngor is something I still can't imagine happening to me. There were times in this book where I burst in to tears. I am deeply saddened by Haing's senseless murder. This was an amazing book, though I wouldn't recomend it to most people my age.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was my first exposure to what had happened in Cambodia. I saw a man go through a typical childhood for his class abnd become a doctor and meet the woman of his dreams. His life was perfect. Then on April 17,1975 it all came crashing down. He and the rest of his family were plunged into some of the worst conditions to ever exist in history. He survived almost his whole family. Then, he had the courage to show the whole world what had happened to his people. Sadly, this man was killed in a "random" murder in his home in LA. We promised the survivors of the Holocaust that we'd never let it happen again, but we did in Cambodia. Read this book and see why again we must try and keep it from happening ever again.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding portrait of a man who survived the barbaric reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Anyone who has seen the movie "The Killing Fields" has a cursory understanding of the Khmer Rouge and their attempt to transform Cambodian society during their control of the country from 1975 to 1979. However, this film omitted most of the astounding atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge as anyone who has visited Tuol Sleng S-21 in Phnom Penh (as I have) can tell you. In this book Dr. Ngor relates his horrifying experiences of life under the Khmer Rouge in detail and in the process educates the reader as to just how horrible an existence it really was.
This book is remarkable because of the detail related by Dr. Ngor and the personal nature of its content. Many Cambodians to this day will not talk about his period in their lives. For many, the mental and physical abuse they suffered during this period was too painful to re-live ever again. As I read this book, I could not help but wonder how Dr. Ngor was able to keep himself together.
Dr. Ngor effectively puts the period of Khmer Rouge rule in historical context by explaining the historical events and forces which led to their capture of the country. These events and forces included the People's Republic of China, North Vietnam, the Vietnam War, the United States, and of course, the C.I.A.
I admire Dr. Ngor for his extraordinary courage, and I regret that I did not have the opportunity to meet him during his lifetime. May he rest in peace.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm sorry that it took me so long to find this book, partially because the book is actually entitled "SURVIVING the Killing Fields: The Cambodian Odyssey of Haing S. Ngor" (and after all this time it took only a few days to read it). Aside from that, it's probably the most intense memoir about life under the Khmer Rouge. Also gives thorough insight into the social and political maze that led led to Pol Pot's reign of terror, and what happened to Cambodia afterwards. Ngor also told not only the *deeply* disturbing details of his life as a war slave, but also the difficulties of starting a new life in America. In addition, he clearly portrayed the bizarro-ness of life as a celebrity, as opposed to the life he lived in his homeland. The reader gets a real sense of the isolation he must have felt, even after his successes in America. All this, along with his spiritual beliefs in karma, which helped him explain some of the madness, make this a beautiful and haunting story. By the way, reading this will make you want to see 'The Killing Fields' again, just to see his performance one more time. It's clear that this memoir served in part as a therapeutic device for him personally, but it's also a truly inspiring book for anyone to read. Reading about his journey was weirdly prophetic, bittersweet and sad because ten years after this book was published, Ngor was killed in a senseless act of violence in L.A.
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Format: Hardcover
Enter into the compelling story of a truly remarkable man, Haing Ngor, living through the Cambodian holocaust of the late 1970's under the Khmer Rouge. Be prepared, however, for some of the most gruesome torture that a man could suffer - both physically and mentally. If you have any heart at all, you will be changed by this book.

The story begins with a history of Haing's early life in a peaceful Cambodian existence that would be no more. You see a life that is transformed into that of a frail, hungry, tortured and battered peasant. He has everything physically and materially stripped away from him and only his wife to live for. And the story gets even worse. But, through it all, this man clings to hope and a faith in his God that defies all sense reason.

The story does not end painfully. You will see how this one man's deep scars and loss literally transform him into something greater than what he began as. It is not an easy read, but a very compelling one.
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