- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 58359th edition (December 26, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786713151
- ISBN-13: 978-0786713158
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 108 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Survival in the Killing Fields Paperback – December 26, 2003
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From Library Journal
For his role as the journalist Dith Pran in the film The Killing Fields (1984), Haing Ngor, a Cambodian doctor with no acting experience, won an OscarR. In playing the part, he drew on his own tormented life as a war slave during the Cambodian civil war, which makes the agony seen in the film seem mild. Funded and fueled by Chinese Communists, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge were a gang of brutal thugs who dispossessed, robbed, raped, tortured, and murdered so many of their countrymen/women that somewhere between a third and a half of the population was decimated. Ngor himself was tortured three times and lost a finger for calling his wife "sweet." Before each of the three tortures, the listener is warned that it will be violent, but this highly compelling account has few equals among stories of cruel, sadistic oppression masquerading as ideology and should be heard in full by anyone who cares about freedom. Unlike most programs written with a collaborator, the narrative voice here is distinct and wholly convincing, and British actor Crawford Logan's authoritative reading is terrifyingly real. This is a very demanding program, but it is of such high merit and rare importance that it deserves a place in every collection. Highly recommended.?Peter Josyph, New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The best book on Cambodia that has ever been published."
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What sets Ngor's book apart from the others that I have read is that Ngor was an adult when the Khmer Rouge took over. His memories are very lucid, and he fully comprehends what is going on around him. He watches his young wife die in his arms, those close to him betray, and everyone around him suffer. There are no high points throughout the entire odysey. Ngor brings you to the senseless and incomprehensible suffering that pervades every aspect of life under the Khmer Rouge.
One element I particularily enjoyed about Ngor's book is the extensive descriptions of Cambodian culture, attitudes and behaviour. Cambodian society (from what I can gather from what I have hitherto studied) is highly formal, with a rather complex series of formality set up for intereaction with others and a rather reserved character in regards to expression of feelings. The most important of which in this context being "kum," which is a sort of bitterness and longing for revenge, that becomes evident in a lot of what is happening. You will leave this read with a feeling of not only being inside of what is happening, but also for the actual mechanisms guiding behaviour.
This is, however, not a pleasant read in the least. The descriptions of the atrocities are beyond anything that I was expecting, and for that reason, I would seriously warn others that this is not for the faint at heart. Luckily, Ngor offers notes at the beginning of graphic chapters so that one can skip over them. You will lose sleep, and I can guarantee you that it makes any of those goofy horror movies like "Hostel" and "Turistas" look like a day at Disneyland. This horror is real, and not far in the past. Being that my normal area of study is Russian history, I have read a lot about the horrors of communism and tyranny, but nothing from the basements of Lyubyanka Prison or Mao Tse Tung's Cultural Revolution comes close to the abominable atrocities of Pol Pot's Cambodia.
Ngor also describes his role in the classic movie, The Killing Fields, as well as his integration of life in America. An afterword by friend Roger Warner ends the book on a particularily haunting and sad note, but rightfully so, none the less.
There are a lot of truely excellent books available by survivors of the Killing Fields, and this is the quintessential starting point for those who wish to learn more.
The horrors wrought by communism are spelled out on every page...brutal, dehumanizing, and terrifying
How sad that this was the largest genocidal act since WW2, and hardly anyone knows it.
Human suffering and strength revealed in the lives and deaths of a great percentage of an entire race of people.
Deserves to be read and spoken of.
We learn about Haing's life as a boy, how he survived the killing fields, his escape and how he came to be a movie star, then his tragic death. All the while, we are introduced to Cambodian history, the general attitude between different ethnic groups and their relationship with neighboring countries. It is enough to understand the world around him, but not so much to bog the story down.
I recommend this book highly for anyone interested in learning about life under the Khmer Rhouge.
Most recent customer reviews
However, after reading the Epilogue, I must say I have some doubts on some of the episodes - how did they happen and if they truly...Read more