Children of Cambodia's Killing Fields

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Memoirs by Survivors

Dith Pran; Edited by Kim DePaul; Introduction by Ben Kiernan

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This extraordinary book contains eyewitness accounts of life in Cambodia during Pol Pot's genocidal Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, accounts written by survivors who were children at the time. The book has been put together by Dith Pran, whose own experiences in Cambodia were so graphically portrayed in the film The Killing Fields.

The testimonies related here bear poignant witness to the slaughter the Khmer Rouge inflicted on the Cambodian people. The contributors—most of them now in the United States and pictured in photographs that accompany their stories—report on life in Democratic Kampuchea as seen through children's eyes. They speak of their bewilderment and pain as Khmer Rouge cadres tore their families apart, subjected them to harsh brainwashing, drove them from their homes to work in forced-labor camps, and executed captives in front of them. Their stories tell of suffering and the loss of innocence, the struggle to survive against all odds, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

Dith Pran is a photojournalist for the New York Times and founder of the Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project. Kim DePaul is the wife of Dith Pran and executive director of his project.

"Dith Pran's collection of wartime stories written by children of Cambodia's killing fields is filled with outrage and compassion. They evoke a time when, in the name of absurd and senseless ideologies, cruel rulers inflicted systematic suffering, humiliation, and death upon hundreds and thousands of their kinsmen. They must not be forgotten."—Elie Wiesel

"These accounts of lfie Khmer Rouge testify to the horrors of that regime and to the strength and will of those who endured."—Michael Pollastro, Public Library Association


"At this time, my family was separated. My father was imprisoned because he was suspected of being in the military during the Lon Nol reign. . . . My sister and I were put into an orphan's home. I was four years old and my sister was three. . . . We were afraid of ghosts because there were so many dead people around the village."—Sarah P. Tun

"These piercing stories of the Cambodian holocaust should be required reading in schools throughout the world. Painful though it may be to contemplate these accounts of young survivors, they desperately need to be passed, whole and without softening, from generation to generation. For it is only by such bearing of witness that the rest of us are rendered unable to pretend that true evil is exceedingly rare in the world, or worse, is but a figment. The Khmer Rouge embodied evil; the stories in this book engrave that truth in history."—Sydney H. Schanberg

"The compilation is a painful and shocking reminder of a shameful period in human history. Given the current unrest in Cambodia, it is also a warning."—Gretchen Heber, American Statesman

"With the Khmer Rouge again poised to overtake Cambodia, Children is a timely reminder of the country's recent bloody past."—Ted Leventhal, Booklist

"An extraordinarily moving work that confirms the horrors of the Pol Pot regime."—Kenton Clymer, Crossroads

"The sheer intensity of these brief and terrifying snapshots seen from the perspectives of their young authors underscores with great poignancy the horror of the Pol Pot period."—Nancy J. Smith-Hefner, Journal of Asian Studies

"Childhood testimonies by survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia...Compelling."—Kirkus Reviews

"The work bears a sense of painful credibility."—Library Journal

"Gives voice to the unspeakable….The overwhelming simplicity of the contributor's recollections builds a solid, irrefutable censure of one of humanity's most shocking crimes."—Lance Gould, New York Times Book Review

"These recollections provide a child's-eye view of their families' suffering. . . . An important reminder of the darkest chapter in post-WWII history."—Publishers Weekly

"The stories in this book are discomfiting, sometimes gruesome, and often horrific, but they should be remembered. . . . At the time of the Khmer Rouge terror, most of the writers were children. Their survival is a tribute to their resilience and the power of the human spirit."—Pin Sisovann, Seattle Post Intelligencer

"The essays are profoundly moving. They are written in the voices simple and honest. They are entirely personal and yet speak about Everyman. The book is free of politics as it should be. It is not about the proud and the mighty and the originators of the trouble. It is about the small and the frightened and how life, in the face of such horror, unbelievably, goes on."—Anton Ford, The Asian Reporter

"Less documentary of tragedy than a document of hope."—John Nichols, The Capital Times, (Madison, WI)

Selected as a Book for the Teen Age for 1998 by the New York Public Library

Chosen as an "Outstanding" Title in the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) catalogue of University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries
ISBN: 9780300068399
Publication Date: April 24, 1997
220 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
28 b/w illus.