In the light of the uncertain future, one must regularly look back to their past to comb through history in order to make sure that the trajectory we are heading will not end in another catastrophe and disaster. After all, those who do not remember history will be doomed to repeat it. In recent years, many historical accounts have been published to shed light on the atrocities of the past that many may prefer to remain buried, and Loung Ung’s memoir is one of them.
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 Ung was drafted to become a child soldier, and she bear witness to unspeakable atrocities and horrors that will remain until the downfall of the Khmer Rouge.
First published in 2006 and given a Netflix movie adaptation directed by Angelina Jolie in 2017, First They Killed My Father traces Loung Ung’s childhood under the regime of Pol Pot. The book gives a voice to the 3 million Cambodians who were massacred under the regime of a mad man, the desperate acts human beings are capable of doing under inhumane circumstances, and the unflinching spirit that keeps a young girl’s hope alive.
– Review by Huda