First They Killed My Father

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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 story. She was able to prove her thesis by telling her story in great detail. From the moment the Khmer Rouge came through Phnom Penh to the moment where she got on the plane headed to Vermont, the details were vivid and very graphic. The evidence was definitely interwoven throughout the story in a way that was consistent with proving the author’s thesis. The author proved her thesis by describing every event that occurred. These events justify her thesis and result in many lessons being learned by reading this book. There are many valuable lessons in this book. Even as a young child, Luong had to learn how to survive through this terrible situation. One lesson is that family is very important. Without her father, mother, sisters, and brothers, Luong wouldn’t have been able to survive. Without her brothers and father providing the family with food, the family wouldn’t have been able to survive. A second lesson is that sometimes a person or government’s actions can be different than their original intentions and ideas. The thought of having a classless society might seem good, but in reality, it is very impractical. A third theme is that even in bad situations, you have to have a good spirit. Even though her parents and two of her sisters were brutally murdered by the Khmer Rouge, she was still able to keep her spirit alive and triumph over all of the obstacles that were in her way. A fourth lesson is the violence is never the solution to a problem. The Khmer Rouge used violence to instill their ideas into the citizens of Cambodia. This obviously didn’t succeed, seeing as their eventually overthrown. Governments should never use violence because besides it being morally and ethically wrong, this will cause its citizens to be unhappy. A government with unhappy citizens won’t last because governments need to have support from their citizens. A fifth lesson is that person’s words can differ from the things that they do. The government said that they were...
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