First They Killed My Father

First They Killed My Father

A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

Book - 2000
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
Chronicles the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, from the author's forced "evacuation" of Phnom Penh in 1975 to her family's subsequent movements from town to town and eventual separation.


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.


& Taylor

The stirring true story of a girl who survived the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia retraces her steps from the forced "evacuation" of Phnom Penh in 1975 when she was a girl of five, to her family's subsequent movements from town to town and eventual separation, which resulted in her parents' deaths and her being trained as a child soldier.

Publisher: [New York] : HarperCollins Publishers, [2000]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2000
ISBN: 9780060193324
Branch Call Number: BIO Ung 2000
Characteristics: xi, 240 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, genealogical table, portraits, map ; 25 cm
Audience: Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.0 15.0 56569


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

May 01, 2018

In this gripping memoir, author Luong Ung recalls her family’s tumultuous escape from Phnom Penh in 1975. The reader is held captive as her tale chronicles how her family of nine bounced from village to village, hiding their education and affluent background in an effort to evade the Khmer Rouge army. Over the months that follow, Luong’s family is split, her father and mother disappearing while her remaining siblings are divided into labor camps, trained to be child soldiers. The memoir is unique in that it reads from a child’s perspective, and many scenes feel as though the reader is watching events unfold from knee height, ratcheting up the tension and adding a further dimension of hopelessness. While Luong’s story is only a small snapshot of what was a horrifying period in history, it is no less meaningful.

Mar 28, 2018

Really powerful book. I've read books by Elie Wiesel, the Palawan massacre, the Bataan Death March, Mao's labor camps, and other horrific events. This one was the most challenging to read. The title of the book does not do it justice. The Khmer Rouge did so many horrific things to Luong and her family long before they killed her father.

My only criticism is throughout the book the author drifted into her imagination quite a bit. At times it was hard to follow if she was really seeing something or if it was just in her thoughts.

Jan 29, 2018

Great book! I think every middle and high school student should read this book. It showed how quickly values had changed for a little girl who lost her perfect life in beautiful family house in matter of several days .

Oct 02, 2017

Luong Ung tells of the suffering of her family with such vivid emotions. I cried throughout listening to the audio version. It is hard to believe how she survived years of starvation and hard work as a child. Looking forward to her movie produced by Angela Jolie. A must read because it will help understand the plights of refugees.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at KHCPL

To Top