First They Killed My Father

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First They Killed My Father

By | April 2008
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In 1975, The Khmer Rouge became the ruling political party of Cambodia after overthrowing the Lon Nol government. Following their leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge imposed an extreme form of social engineering on Cambodian society. They wanted to form an anti-modern, anti-Western ideal of a restructured “classless agrarian society'', a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects. The Khmer Rouge revolutionary army enforced this mostly with extreme violence. The book “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers”, written by Luong Ung, is the author’s story of growing up during this time period. She was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came into power. As stated in the author’s note, “From 1975 to 1979, through execution, starvation, disease, and forced labor, the Khmer Rouge systematically killed an estimated two million Cambodians, almost a fourth of the country’s population.”

There are several reasons why Luong wrote the book “First They Killed My Father”. One reason would be to show how people struggle to survive against all odds. Another reason for writing this book would be to show how the government's intentions and its actions can differ. She is also attempting to show how important family is and the effects that war can have on a person.

When the Khmer Rouge overthrew the Cambodian government and took over, Luong Ung was only five years old. She lived through the entire period of the Khmer Rouge being in power, which is why she can provide first hand evidence of the war and its effects on the people of Cambodia. She had to live through the harsh conditions and had her innocence stolen by the new government and its brutality and disregard for the people it governed. Yet, she was able to keep her spirit alive, triumph over this tragedy and tell her story. She didn’t have to generalize, seeing as she witnessed every event that occurred in the...
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