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Golden Bones: An Extraordinary Journey from Hell in Cambodia to a New Life in America Hardcover – July 1, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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About the Author

Sichan Siv served as a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2001 to 2006, and as deputy assistant to the president for public liaison and deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia from 1989 to 1993. Ambassador Siv holds a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University. He and his wife spend their time in San Antonio, New York, and beyond.

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Product Details

  • Series: Golden Bones: An Extraordinary Journey from Hell in Cambodia to a New Life in America (Book 52699)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061340685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061340680
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,718,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Hsu on August 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I must congratulate the author for creating such a powerful story that will inspire us all for generations to come. It takes an incredible amount of courage to relive those moments in order to tell of them. On behalf of all of us who are fortunate to be able to read of his journey, we thank him for his soulful outpouring and for sharing a piece of history that we might otherwise never have known about.

From cultural highlights about Cambodia (arranged marriages, faith, and even pet bears), to the carnage of the Khmer Rouge, to public speaking tips (Z180 delivery), to even getting ripped off in NYC, Sichan has created a memorable book that reminds us that the key to overcoming anything life throws at us is to keep that optimistic spirit alive, and to treat others around you with endless kindness and respect.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Golden Bones reads like fiction, until you realize it is a true story. It is history, international politics, intrigue, the White House, United Nations and a love story all rolled into one. I started it on a Friday evening and could not put it down until I finished it on Sunday. What a most fascinating and moving story. The courage and leadership showed by Sichan Siv at such a young age was remarkable, and should be an inspiration to everyone. Fleeing hell and thirteen years later becoming a Presidential aide sounds more like a novel than reality.

In addition, I enjoyed learning more about the history and culture of Cambodia.

While reading Golden Bones, I was often in tears, and frequently, crying. Ambassador Siv's escape during the 1975-1976 period occurred when I was working in the White House. I saw how difficult his life was, and thought how soft it was for me at that same time. I can't even imagine what it was like to learn that your family had been brutally murdered. The description of his mother and family was wonderful and heart warming. His escape from the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields was remarkable and riveting.

Sichan Siv's return to Cambodia in 1992 representing the President of the United States must have been one of the most enjoyable and emotional moments of his life. Also, what a thrill to have the Dalai Lama ask for your autograph?

After going through hell, Ambassador Siv had so many good things happen to him upon arriving in the United States, but, obviously, meeting Martha Lee Pattillo, his future wife, had to be at the top of the list. His description of their courtship and relationship has the making of a movie, a true love story.

One of my regular tennis partners while in the White House was George H. W.
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Format: Hardcover
Golden Bones is one of the most amazing, inspiring stories that I have ever come across. It is really at least two inspirational stories. The first is Sichan Siv's tale of survival during the murderous reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia--a reign that killed over a fifth of Siv's countrymen and almost his entire family. His dramatic, against-all-odds escape from Cambodia by bicycling across the entire country, somehow escaping detection and outwitting the Khmer Rouge, is an epic in and of itself. The second story--how Siv rose from a penniless refugee in the U.S. to a high-ranking White House official and later a U.S. Ambassador--is an incredible tale in its own right. His rise from working as a New York cab driver plying the streets outside the U.N. to a high-ranking Ambassador representing the U.S. inside the U.N. is one of those "only in America" stories that should make us all proud. The book keeps you on the edge of your seat as it navigates through all of the dramatic twists and turns of Sichan Siv's remarkable life. This book is required reading!
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Format: Paperback
Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge under the authoritarian regime of Pol Pot, attempted a form of social engineering unprecedented in history. Pol Pot, a relatively obscure peasant who had unsuccessfully pursued engineering in Paris, tried to re-engineer Cambodian society on Maoist principles by eradicating the past.

He ordered the mass relocation of the population of entire cities, including the capital, Phnom Penh; destroyed social unity by conscripting workers into labor gangs; abolished currency and all forms of money; and even declared that Time, as it existed, would be stopped and resume at "Year Zero," the first year of his regime. Self-sufficiency was rewarded, and non- productive people imprisoned or executed. Education and culture were swept away, and those who were educated or skilled, especially in foreign cultures, were eliminated. It was as if Orwell's "Animal Farm" had taken over Joseph Conrad's Congo in "Heart of Darkness," all against a backdrop of Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now."

Statistics are difficult to come by because many records were destroyed, but the best estimate is that between 1.5 and 2 million Cambodians were tortured, worked, or starved to death in Pol Pot's reign of terror. As a factor of the population (about 8 million), that makes "The Killing Fields" one of the deadliest episodes of genocide in modern history. Human bones and piles of skulls littered the landscape and are still being unearthed thirty years later.
Hundreds, mostly children, are killed or maimed by land mines years after the war.
Responsibility for these atrocities has been delayed by the passage of time and by the death of many of the key players, including Pol Pot, ("Brother Number One") who died in 1998.
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