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First They Killed My Father

A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
Written by: Loung Ung
Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung's family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed. Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung's powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.

©2000 Loung Ung (P)2011 Tantor

What the critics say

"Ung's memoir should serve as a reminder that some history is best not left just to historians but to those left standing when the terror ends." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about First They Killed My Father

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compelling

Couldn't put it down, had to listen from start to finish in one day. Having worked with Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees in the Philippines, I had a sense of affinity with the author - quite a compelling and remarkable story.

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Beautiful and tragic

This book is well written and is a heart wrenching story. it's a must read!

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#Audible 1. it is a fantastic book. i highly recom

#Audible 1. This was a fantastic book. highly recommend it. Everyone should read it now.

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  • Michael
  • 2012-10-09

excellent and very moving true story

What did you love best about First They Killed My Father?

the whole story -a recall of a terrible time

What other book might you compare First They Killed My Father to and why?

nothing compares

Which scene was your favorite?

the most tragic was when they took her father away, very very moving!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

most definetly!

Any additional comments?

it made me appreciate the wonderful live I have and how easily this could be taken away1

6 people found this helpful

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  • Daryl
  • 2012-07-31

An eye-opening look into an unknown world

Would you listen to First They Killed My Father again? Why?

Yes. it was a difficult read, so I had to pick it up and put it down, but it was captivating and tragic.

Have you listened to any of Tavia Gilbert’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I don't believe I have... but I will have to check out more of her material; she did an amazing job on this one.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Gillian
  • 2015-01-27

Brutal, Heartbreaking

The trials held against some of the last surviving perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide this past October really had me interested in looking into some of books out there on the subject. After listening to the deplorable "Soul of a Tiger," "First They Killer My Father" was so hard hitting as to be almost unbearable. It's extraordinary the way Loung Ung's character develops from a naive, whiny child (whiny because she hasn't a clue as to how dangerous the situation is) to a desperate individual who would do anything to survive, even if it means stealing food, killing sparrows, whatever. This is starvation and desperation at its most devastating.
This is not a light listen, but it's a good one. Just be prepared for some heartbreak, some hopelessness. But some love there too.
That said, you'll never think of earthworms the same way again...

10 people found this helpful

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  • rachel
  • 2016-02-18

simply beautiful

very touching book. gave a very good overview of the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia. I would absolutely recommend the read or the listen of this order book....

4 people found this helpful

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  • Christa
  • 2016-02-07

Great and harrowing story of survival

I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. The only thing that I wish there had been was more historical and factual information about the reign of pol pot. As far as a first person memoir in an event like this, this book was well told and easy to listen to. I will have my kids listen to this when they are old enough. Because of details of rape, I would say 13+

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kat V
  • 2018-06-06

Gripping Story with Infantile Voice

We read this book for our Book Group. Everyone else was totally engrossed in the narrative - except me. I am the only
member who uses audio books. This is one book that should NOT be read out loud. Hearing a grown woman's voice
trying to sound like a five-year old was a deal breaker. Even the most frightening or heartbreaking events sounded
contrived and just ------- wrong. GO to the Public Library for this one.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ashley
  • 2015-02-17

Moving story of survival

Could not stop listening to this chilling true story of strength and survival. Great novel!

2 people found this helpful

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  • D. Din
  • 2017-10-03

A story similar to my parent's individual stories

A story that echoes many hundreds I've heard from elders. i though it was well written. though the pronunciations of many thing were different from my native tongue, it did not throw me off. the reminders were so vivid in my mothers eye's she told me she couldn't finish. it mirrored many things my parents told me when i would complain, and i would shut up because nothing i was going through was like that, it's a little different when you meet the characters in a story and visually see the effects of the aftermath. My father escaped with a khmer rouge child soldier whom i call uncle till this day. I wish I had documented these campfire stories because that generation is fading fast and only child survivors like the author, my parents and their contemporaries still remain. This book struck a chord with me and made me appreciate the ones who came before me.

1 person found this helpful

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  • diney
  • 2017-09-09

an amazing story, but rather poorly written

interesting to learn about this period through a child's eyes. The writing is repetitive and unsophisticated, but still paints a compelling picture.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 2012-01-03

Amazing, heartbreaking - A must read!

The atrocities surrounding events in this book sound like they should be deep in our past; however they were merely 30 years ago. This is an amazing and heartbreaking story told from the inside through the eyes of an intelligent young girl. I have recommended this book to many family and friends. It really does show all sides of human nature and opens your eyes to what people are capable of. A must read!

3 people found this helpful