First They Killed My Father

Ung, Loung

  11 Reviews

During the Khmer Rouge's reign in Cambodia, two million people perished. Loung Ung was five years old and her family, middle class and privileged, were an anathema to the Pol Pot regime. This is their courageous story that encompasses their dispersal to labour camps, Loung's training as a child soldier, the death of parents and the eventual reuniting of the surviving siblings. With its young narrator and its matter-of-fact style, it is a powerful and compelling reminder of the experiences of the people of Cambodia.

Comments from Groups

Most of the group appreciated reading this difficult yet inspiring account of a five year old's life and that of her family under Pol Pot in the 1970s. Amazing and well written. Recommend it. Wellington 130

Sad but compelling. Highly recommended. Auckland 171

Profound effect on many members, makes our worries about our children seem very trivial. Impressed by detail and recall. Wellington 12

Despite the harrowing subject matter it was an easy read. A recommended read for background information on this period of fairly recent history.

This was one of the best reads, despite the grim content. However, it was felt poetic licence was used for memory and credibility content. Whanganui 9



CHCH 422
The book brought back memories of news items that people could remember viewing at the time of these atrocities. Several members of the group started the book and couldn't finish as was too heart wrenching and challenging. One of the group was born in the same year as the author and this gave extra context thinking about how their two childhoods were so completely different. A question running through people's minds was around how these despots actually cumulate the power they manage to get. Well written but extremely sad.
CHCH 423
The 2 people in our group who read the book from beginning to end, found it a rewarding, inspiring and humbling read. The extraordinarily hard subject matter was made easier to read by the child's voice. Other folk in the group read parts or none of the book because they found this amazing story of courage and survival just too hard to read.
A challenging book to read for all, but a revealing insight into the years of the Pol Pot regime and the aftermath.
GORE 007
The group is sourcing the sequel as they enjoyed this so much.
Easy to read and very interesting.
We all liked the book very much. Shocking and sad.
ROTO 013
Some just couldn't bring themselves to read this, but for others it was a well-written record of a challenging time.
A very real experience for Loung Ung, and the reader also felt very much in the moment. Certainly developed a real awareness of the atrocities committed by human beings against one another. Well-written, but content very disturbing.
PICT 001
Everyone was very pleased to have read this book although appalled at the content. They were relieved the families ended up as well as they did.
Not exactly light entertainment, but well-written and educational. We all learnt a lot about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge.
WELL 104
Two members not happy to read this book, but the remainder considered it a harrowing story but very well-written. In absolute awe of the writer and her family's courage.