First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers


In this heartbreaking and compelling memoir, Loung Ung shares the story of her childhood in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime.  At the age of five, she and her family were forced to leave their home in Phnom Penh and seek safety in the countryside.  There, her family faced the constant threat of starvation and violence.  Eventually, the children were scattered to different camps, and Loung Ung was trained as a child soldier and subjected to endless propaganda.

First They Killed My Father is the tense, inspiring tale of a daughter who, undeterred by horrific circumstances, never stopped trying to reunite with her surviving family members.

"In the dark, the world is quiet and unhurried as streetlights flicker on and off.  Restaurants close their doors and food carts disappear into side streets.  Some cyclo drivers climb into their cyclo to sleep while others continue to peddle around, looking for fares.  Sometimes when I feel brave, I walk over to the edge of the railing and look down at the lights below.  When I'm very brave, I climb onto the railing, holding on to the banister very tightly.  With my whole body supported by the railing I dare myself to look at my toes as they hang at the edge of the world."

Loung Ung is an author, activist, and public speaker.  Born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, she emigrated to the United States after surviving the genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime.  She has published two memoirs: First They Killed My Father and Lucky Girl.

Published:  2000
Length:  238 pages
Set in:  Cambodia