Read To Destroy You is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family by Joan D. Criddle Online


This amazing book was written by California author Joan Criddle, who has done a remarkable job in simulating the words of a Cambodian-American, Silicon Valley computer programmer Teeda Butt Mam, the daughter of a Lon Nol minor government official. When Phnom Pehn fell, Teeda was fifteen years old and attending an English school in the city. As a pampered child of a well-toThis amazing book was written by California author Joan Criddle, who has done a remarkable job in simulating the words of a Cambodian-American, Silicon Valley computer programmer Teeda Butt Mam, the daughter of a Lon Nol minor government official. When Phnom Pehn fell, Teeda was fifteen years old and attending an English school in the city. As a pampered child of a well-to-do urban family, she was not prepared to endure the hardships and the horrors which she would soon be forced to experience.Upon the defeat of the Lon Nol Khmer Republic, Pol Pot founded Democratic Kampuchea and launched the economic plan of his French-trained associate, Khieu Samphan, who held that land was the source of all wealth. Khieu spurned technological and industrial development. According to him, only agricultural abundance and high prices for agricultural products could create economic prosperity. He viewed the Cambodian peasant as a “natural man” whose knowledge of agriculture was a sufficient education for anyone if supplemented with an elementary knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic. He also believed that educated urbanites had been so corrupted by Western ideas and values that they were a “useless” entity in the economic body unless they could be successfully re-educated --brainwashed -- and transformed into ideologically correct peasants; otherwise, he believed they should be destroyed, not being any “loss” to the country. Khieu’s plan was designed to be put into effect with “ruthless force.” And it was.As terrible, as horrible, as depressing as it is to learn how political and economic extremism can distort human perception and turn men into beasts, Teeda’s story is at the same time absorbing, edifying, and ennobling--even hopeful. She and her family are exemplars of human courage, determination, and resourcefulness. After four years spent in slave labor and another year in a frustrating attempt to escape with her family to the United States, their spirit of liberty was never crushed. If their destruction was “no loss” to the Khmer Rouge, their preservation has been a decided gain for the citizenry of the United States...

Title : To Destroy You is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family
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ISBN : 9780963220516
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 294 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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To Destroy You is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family Reviews

  • Kristopher Swinson
    2019-05-22 12:34

    The title, as explained in the opening pages, is taken from a Khmer Rouge slogan, “To keep you is no benefit; to destroy you is no loss,” used to keep the Cambodian people in submission (see 93, 104, 153). Although this is not a literary masterpiece, it is an emotional one. I am grateful to come from a home where my father spoke of how America had betrayed Southeast Asia—not by being there, but in its failure and departure, a loss of nerve, principle, and commitment. This book speaks of the inevitable price paid by said withdrawal (xxiv, 166). When Teeda’s group escaped Cambodia (the second time—the first failed attempt being mind-numbingly frustrating), around the time that I was born, they only wanted to live in America, “because it had the most freedom and the best opportunity to build a new life” (217).My parents never spoke disparagingly of such people; in fact, I recall their praise of persevering in the face of all that they had been through, and their work ethic. Shocking as a brief television depiction of some killing field was in my childhood, I am similarly grateful that my mother took the time to explain, specifically and otherwise on many occasions, why we must never close our eyes to the fact that Pol Pots, Stalins, and the like arise in this world of ours. We must never forget, and my occasional nightmare of this theme reminds me of how much worse it must be for those who actually face it while the world turns its back. I say this because I already experienced the beginnings of a disease in the American educational system by the mid-1980s, described by one author:A substitute teacher in a Virginia suburb who polled his students in three advanced government classes a few years ago found that fifty-one out of fifty-three of them saw no moral difference between the American system of government and that of the Soviet Union. The two who could see a difference were both Vietnamese boat children. (William K. Kilpatrick, Why Johnny Can't Tell Right from Wrong: Moral Illiteracy and the Case for Character Education [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992], 124; Criddle comments on xi about the generic use of the phrase “Vietnamese boat people”)A land of the free also requires the bravery to preserve freedom. Without the will to use one's influence for good, one eventually loses one's innate moral presence altogether. I appreciate Georgia governor Zell Miller’s insight, because Criddle’s book will join those for my children to learn about “the history of freedom.”I recall seeing a news photograph of a protesting student in the days of the Vietnam War. He was carrying a sign with the words “Nothing is worth dying for.” I remember thinking then, as I do so today, that if there is nothing worth dying for in our America, then there is truly nothing here worth living for, either.I watched the war with Iraq with pride, but could not help marveling, “Where do we keep getting these young men and women? Where do they come from?” It’s amazing that our country produces them when we consider how many young people on our college campuses and workplaces do not have this love of country and a willingness to die for it. Amnesia has either set in or there is total apathy about what has transpired in our history and the huge price that has been paid for freedom. The history of freedom should be a required course just as there once was on the history of Western civilization.Hubris is best defined as “outrageous arrogance.” And if you study the lessons of history, which, as I said, we don’t anymore, you would find that hubris has time and time again brought down powerful civilizations. We are in grave danger of that happening today. There is no greater example of outrageous arrogance than in Hollywood, from those who live in a make-believe world and think they carry more influence than they do. (A National Party No More: the Conscience of a Conservative Democrat [Atlanta, Georgia: Stroud & Hall Publishing, 2003], 203)The nightmare into which Teeda’s family was plunged with the assumption of Khmer Rouge power was preceded by an initial feeling—always false in its hope—that “peace at any price” (7) was worthwhile, even if it was not actually peace. Soon, as the book makes it clear, all the usual lies and fallacies of communism came to light. First of all, this system of government actually destroys the very industry it seeks to appropriate and encourage (53-54). There was a detestation and destruction of books and literacy (31), fear of those possessing knowledge of the world (67), and a plan to ultimately kill everyone with a memory of how things once were (147). Teeda often explains the efforts taken, by means of fear and oppression, to prevent anyone from recalling different days.We brought the wrong lessons forward into the 21st century, thinking that an outcry against any use of force would repair the world’s evils. We tend to feel that as long as a nightmare of political terror isn’t ours, it must not belong to anyone else on the planet’s surface, either. Although war waged against civilians is but another shade of genocide, warfare itself, far from being the immediate cause, was the effect (and mode of propagation) of evil. A more direct path to peace is not outlawing war, but outlawing tyrants and every form of undue oppression or license, most effectively eliminating them in an environment where informed education occurs (for instance, not by censoring the media, but certainly by fostering more honesty and values in it). Solzhenitsyn commented on the very real danger that censorship in the West would take the form of having only fashionable ideas and opinions expressed, soon dropping any uncomfortable truths. Something I seldom express because its reception is generally unfavorable: the recent Terminator: Salvation movie strikes a chord with me mainly because "the rise of the machines" and the rise of the Gestapo, the ruins of LA and the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto, are rather interchangeable. Humanity has consistently shown its ability to churn out both automatons of mass murder and brave-spirited soldiers of resistance. We will see it in the future. And even if the dominance of evil appears unavoidable, perpetual striving against it is essential.It’s been said that knowledge is the first line of defense—it is small surprise that Nazis (see the author’s own parallel, on xxvi and 42) and Khmer Rouge alike first sought to destroy that thin thread. They were so successful at this that even a previously well-educated family that always intended to get away, in spite of first thrilling at a renewed opportunity to forge their own destiny (202), soon found it almost frightening (218). Still, Teeda always fought back mentally. “The utopian society instituted by the Khmer Rouge had little endorsement from the masses” (49), since “they needed food, they needed freedom to go about their own quiet lives, not slogans, famine, fear” (54; see 79). However, one learned to lead a muted life, because even suicide was “considered criticism of the regime” (95), resulting in harsh treatment of surviving family.Among the beautiful lessons naturally arising from the narrative is that their group didn’t count the loss of any worldly thing a true loss, if they had their family in freedom (see 207, 227-228). The family is one of the primary targets of false governing bodies (see 85, 109, 128, 153). Many a self-indulgent American could learn more from that sort of insight than months’ worth of network television and nightly news programs.

  • Niesha
    2019-04-24 12:06

    A book along the lines of Three Swans, this told the story of a Cambodian family suffering under the Communist regime instituted by Pol Pot. Over and over again, I see the same pattern of despots destroying family, religion, and education to control and demoralize people. The family's perseverance and ability to cling to hope and each was inspiring.

  • Danny
    2019-05-03 13:06

    This is a harrowing and amazing story, made only that much more incredible to know that it is a true story. It is not a book you can read lightly, and you may not smile for a day or two when you put it down, but it is still an absolute must read. We live in such an insulated and fortunate state that we can easily forget the kind of cruelty that still fills the world. A book like this is a powerful reminder of how fortunate we are, and how important it is that we try to make the world a better place. If you can read this book and not feel the travesty of living in relative peace and luxury and not using those very blessings to help others, then you probably don't have a pulse.

  • Tara
    2019-05-20 10:29

    This book was intense. And really good. And mind-blowing. Its not the most well-written thing you'll read this year, but it is straightforward in its retelling of the true story of a young woman and her family who lived through the rise and fall of Pol Pot's Cambodian regime (Khmer Rouge) in the 1970's. I found the story truly compelling and could hardly put it down. I was fascinated not only by how Teeda and her family survived, but also by learning how the Khmer Rouge came into power and kept that power--truly sickening. Should you read this book? Yes.

  • Cameron
    2019-05-07 10:33

    This was a thoroughly fascinating book and by far the best personal account of survival during the Pol Pot regime that I have read. Of the other 12 first-person stories that I've finished in the past year, only this book really attempted to put the survivor's experience into historical and cultural context, explaining some of the history and background to the Khmer Rouge nightmare and helping the reader understand how Khmer culture devolved during the communist nightmare (her portrayal of how Khmer marriage customs changed is particularly interesting). Teeda's experiences are not as harsh as Molyda Szymusiak's The Stones Cry Out: A Cambodian Childhood, 1975-1980 or Laurence Picq's Beyond the Horizon: Five Years With the Khmer Rouge, but she managed to avoid death and severe privation through keen observation of what the Khmer Rouge considered worthy and what they punished. Perhaps the worst experience Teeda describes comes after her escape to the Thai border when she and her family are pushed into a minefield by Thai soldiers at the infamous Preah Vihear forced repatriation, the clearest and most detailed account of this incident that I've encountered. The author Joan Criddle must have done significant amounts of research in writing this book at a time when relatively little information on the Khmer Rouge was in print, but it is all presented in a literate and very readable style in the context of Teeda's tale. I'd rate this book above many other Khmer Rouge survival stories (although Chanrithy Him's When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge is also very worthwhile). It certainly eclipses badly-edited works such as Escape from the Killing Fields: One Girl Who Survived the Cambodian Holocaust, The Price We Paid: A Life Experience in the Khmer Rouge Regime, and The Death and Life of Dith Pran.

  • Adena
    2019-05-23 12:22

    I almost have no words to describe my dismay and incredulity at the events outlined in this book. Around the time I was born in America, Cambodians were undergoing a a mass genocide at the hands of ideological communists whose ignorant demagoguery nearly destroyed an entire culture and people, all in the name of "equality." To quote the narrator, "The communists promised equality. Indeed, we were rapidly becoming equal. Equally hungry. Equally homeless. Equally fearful." Told from the perspective of 15-year-old Teeda, she outlines the fall of her city, their expulsion to work in villages, the slave labor, the rounding up of the educated, beautiful, wealthy, or those who had any sort of training or position before the takeover, and the slaughter of them and their families. The lies, the manipulation, the hours-long brainwashing sessions each night after working 14-hour-days to raise rice that was then taken from them. Their escape to Taiwan and then their forced return to Cambodia--hurled over a cliff with thousands of others right into minefields--by Taiwanese soldiers, and their eventual and perilous journey to freedom. It is after reading books like this that I can't help but realize just how much I take for granted; also, how naive we are to think that nothing like this could happen again. We must defend freedom now, before it gets to the point where history repeats itself. It's repeated itself many times since then in Rwanda, in Syria, and in other parts of the world, it's only a matter of time before it reaches our doorsteps. This is a must-read for everyone. We need to know about these historical events.

  • JR
    2019-04-27 09:27

    The writing is not five star quality, but the historical content is. This is a must-read, in my opinion. The author includes a succinct history of Cambodia before and after the fall of the government. The story chronicles a well-to-do family in Phnom Phen who was forced by the Khmer Rouge to leave their home at a moment's notice (the entire city of 3 million was evacuated within a couple of days of taking power). This family then toils under the insane regime for five years, eventually escaping into Thailand when the Vietnamese invade. I know several Cambodians, but had no idea what their real history is. I know about the killing fields, and this goes into that a bit, but is very rarely greusome. In fact, most happenings are simply stated. The author does not go into emotional or descriptive detail about the killings. There were several parts that made me draw in my breath, but besides that it is a simply stated history of a family and a people. It amazed me what a crazy group of guerrillas could accomplish, led by Communist dictators. This book made me appreciate more than ever my freedom as an American, and the humanitarian reasons we go to war. Highly recommended.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-15 07:17

    This is one of the most moving books I have ever read. It is a biography written by an lds author in first person narrative. It chronicles the life of a young girl and her family in Cambodia in the 1970's. I read this book as part of a World History Class at BYU. WARNING: It is graphic and not a happy feel good story. It's been a long time since I read it but I learned things I had never even heard of that went on in our world at the time I was a young child. When my family was living in Kansas in the early 1980's my dad was the bishop and I remember alot of Cambodiam refugees coming to stay with families in our ward and area. I had no idea what kinds of things some of them experienced before coming to America. A wonderfully informative read about an incredible woman and her struggle for physical as well as spiritual survival in a very dark period in the history of our world.

  • Deborah Weiss
    2019-04-27 12:19

    This has probably been one of the hardest books I've read. I had to take it in sections. The horrors of this account can make you sick. I wanted to learn more about Cambodia's history after visiting that amazing (and hot!) country in May 2015. While there, I was blown away by the people. I was so impressed by the kindness and the cheerful nature of people who had been through some of the worst things imaginable. After learning more about the horrors inflicted during the Khmer Rouge, I am inspired by their resiliency, strength and courage. As George Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In many ways we (I) do this. I forget history focus too much on my own first world problems. Books like these should be more widely read so that we can all feel more compassion and love for those around us and have the courage to do something about it.

  • Cissy
    2019-05-13 12:18

    Okay, maybe more like 3 1/2 stars, because I really couldn't put it down. The compelling account of the Cambodian genocide--which I had never even heard of--was stunning. I really enjoyed the Teeda's voice as she recounted her family's miraculous story of survival. The author was often able to portray a horrifying scene with only a few carefully chosen words, rather than being overly-graphic. I promise--it didn't take much description to bring some of the travesties to vivid life. The only thing lacking was emotion. While the matter-of-fact storytelling is powerful--or maybe because it was so powerful--I wanted to really feel what Teeda felt, rather than be told that she felt depressed or scared. But I still recommend it, especially if you need a jolt of motivation.

  • Michelle
    2019-05-01 12:29

    This is the fourth in a series of books that I have selected to read in preparation for a trip to Southeast Asia. A memoir, this one felt real and I learned so much, as Criddle is a gifted story teller. The unimaginable suffering of political refugees is painful to even imagine, and I found myself taking occasional breaks from the book. It is hard to really understand the scope of loss and devastation in these lives. The prologue and epilogue alone make this one of the more relevant books I have read lately. So often when I read memoirs I am put off my the author's "recollection" of exact conversations. This book is simply the retelling of a long journey, and I enjoyed every minute.

  • Polliwog
    2019-04-28 12:06

    This was a painful book to read. But it's one of those books you feel is also necessary and raises your awareness. I knew about the Khmer Rouge; I knew there was a genocide; I didn't know enough. The book is written with a surprisingly unemotional bend--just the facts and details, and very little extra. The writing isn't poetic or beautiful, but it doesn't have to be to keep you reading. It's a book that, when you finish, you can't help but feel 1) awash with gratitude for the fortune life has handed you and 2) shame and horrified awe at the evil mankind is capable of. I highly recommend this book with the caveat that it is not for the faint of heart.

  • Melody
    2019-05-08 15:11

    This is probably the saddest book I have ever read. I always tell my husband about the book I am reading as I am reading it and he kept asking me why I was reading this one because it was so depressing. I am one that thinks that even the sad points in history should be remembered (so that hopefully they won't be repeated) so I thought it was a worthwhile read. I am so grateful to this family for sharing their story, and I am so amazed with them for having gone through so much without giving up. If you can handle it, and I know of several people who can't, I definitely recommend this book.

  • Amanda
    2019-04-23 07:28

    I can't say this was an enjoyable book by any means. It's filled with atrocities and horrors and heartbreaking pain.But it serves a purpose. It serves to highlight how awful the Cambodian genocide was (I hadn't even heard much about it before I read this book for school.). This was an awful thing in our world, but the truth is, people didn't know that the awful slaughters were happening until after the fact.This isn't a book that I would normally read, but it opened up my eyes to one of the worst atrocities of the last century.

  • Julie
    2019-05-10 13:25

    The awesome true story of how the human spirit survives during the darkest of times. A Cambodian family's journey through the genocide in their country during the 70's. Totally enlightening, I wasn't aware of the extent of this country's suffering. And to think it happened during my lifetime. Unfortunately, it continues around the world today. Teeda and her family's story is real and well written. The everyday workings of a normal family in horrific circumstances and how they survive. I will be reading the sequel; it's about their new life in the U.S.

  • Jodi
    2019-05-02 14:17

    This was such a hard book to read. It follows the life of Teeda Butt Mann a Cambodian Pol Pot years. A controversial holocaust that I had no idea even happened! "To destroy you is no loss" was the slogan of the Khmer Rouge, the group that took power and treated everyone as less than a grain of rice. I was appalled to learn that millions of educated people were shuffled out of their homes, killed or relocated to the country to grow rice. And the Khmer Rouge's idea of a perfect communist society was to simply have the people grow rice. That's it!It's scary to realize how quickly this happened and how the people didn't, or couldn't fight back. I can't finish the book because of the devastation. It gets really depressing! Those who had finished it from my book club said they loved it, so I know it ends well, but I think I'm done.

  • Toni
    2019-05-07 10:10

    This true story is co-written by Teeda, a 15-year old girl from Cambodia. It tells of her late 1970's experience during a mass genocide of her people, her survival and escape, then the force of her going back into Cambodia. It talks about her strength to go back and smuggle across the border a second time with her family, and her emigration experience to America. This was an historical event I hadn't heard about before, and won't soon forget. It's so easy to take all of our daily luxuries for granted, and made me feel so grateful for my life, and the blessings I have.

  • Amy
    2019-05-09 11:21

    I had a hard time putting this one down. It was an amazing and heartbreaking story of loss and survival. Everyone needs to read this book.

  • Brianne Hansen
    2019-04-22 09:29

    AMAZING documentary of a true story of the Cambodian holocaust.

  • Onysha
    2019-04-23 11:28

    I went to to visit a childcare centre in Cambodia a couple of years ago. There, I ate rubbery, tasteless bread (which is strange, as I've heard ex-colonies of France have good bread) but had flavourful, fragrant coffee. The caretaker spoke of Pol Pot over tea. I returned home to a stinking house of rotting meat in the freezer. (It's still the worst return home I've ever had.) A week later, I watched the 1984 Killing Fields movie. It was horrific. However, the life of the main character's actor, Dr. Haing S. Ngor, was sadder still. The Killing Fields movie and this book now make me wonder at how the caretaker could speak of Pol Pot so casually.This book is rich in detail on the atrocities of Pol Pot's rule, and life for the Cambodians undergoing "cleansing." Reading it made me angry, which I suppose is a good thing. But I can't wholeheartedly recommend it because the writing is terrible. The writing is dull and emotionless. When people die or are captured by the Khmer Rouge, the author doesn't help us feel the sadness or pain of the characters. I'm not sure if it's because the subjects of the biography were so numb to loss to the extent of feeling little for their dead father, or if the author simply didn't know how to tackle feelings of loss. The only emotion left for you to feel is anger. Anger at what the Khmer Rouge did to people. Mere description of these acts can incite anger easily.Of course, it's not important for one to feel emotions while reading this book. But this is a biography, and biographies are meant to give eyewitness accounts of events, giving the reader a more intimate and personal look at what happened. This book is an excellent source of information about the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot years. On the other hand, it is one of the most disconnected, impersonal, and dry biographies I have ever read.

  • Lesenia F
    2019-05-10 09:13

    To Destroy You Is No Loss by Joan Criddle is really an eye opening book. It's about the Cambodian holocaust, something that I had never learned about. Considering this was fairly recent (within the past fifty years), I would have expected it to be something that I would have known.Through Criddle's use of descriptive language, the reader gets a personal look at what life was like for Teeda and her family. This descriptive language appeals to pathos, making it hard not to sympathize for Teeda. This book was at times hard for me to read, because what she is describing is so horrible. Teeda talks about having to walk by dead bodies in the street, and she said "I plugged my nose against the assault of rotting flesh and breathed through my mouth, but the stench of death also had a taste" (29). However, this language is needed to get the point across that this was a serious time in history and should be more well known to the world. This holocaust was compared to the holocaust during World War Two in the book, stating that the "Khmer Rouge tactics were similar to those of the Nazis in dealing with the Jews" (42).Overall, the book was very good. I gave it four stars because at times it seemed to be written awkwardly, but it was an effective book. As long as the reader is able to handle the raw nature of the events, then I would suggest this book. It is an important part of Cambodia's history and should not be forgotten.

  • Michelle
    2019-05-19 08:25

    I read "Unbroken" (WW2 POWs in Japan), then "Left to Tell" (Rwandan holocaust), and now "To Destroy You is No Loss" about the Communist take over of Cambodia. These three books have left my heart truly grieving for the terror and suffering so many have had to endure because of power-hungry, diabolical individuals who were able to sway masses to commit atrocities against others. The first two mentioned books also are about forgiveness, but this book was a straight forward account of what happened to Teeda and her family, and entire country, during the 4 years that Communists controlled Cambodia. Her story is remarkable as it details how they did everything they could to survive indoctrination, slave labor and starvation, as well as their desperation and courage to attempt getting asylum in Thailand. I don't want to give it away, but chapters 16 and 17 had me weeping. I'll be thinking about it for quite some time.I know I keep reading depressing books, "Life and Death in Shanghai" is an excellent addition to this list of historical writings, but I feel it is so important to know what happened. I feel it is a way to honor the innocent victims that their story is known. It makes it feel less in vain. And if we can learn from how politics unfolded making these horrible things take place, to be able to prevent it from happening again, then that will be another victory.

  • Marissa
    2019-04-25 08:24

    "I have lived in three very different worlds. For fifteen years, I was a pampered child of a well-to-do family in Phnom Penh, then, for four years, a slave in a rural Communist commune. And I am now a professional woman with a demanding career, a wife and mother; an American citizen. Repeatedly, the Khmer Rouge told us that we were insignificant, that to destroy us was no loss. Revenge in the Western sense can be a destructive force in the life of a wronged person, but for Cambodians revenge has a different meaning. By our actions, by what we can accomplish, we intend to show that we do have significance. When we have proven the Khmer Rouge wrong in their assessment of our culture and of us as individuals, our revenge will be complete." I found this book rather disturbing and upsetting. I completely understand why she titled it thus; "To keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss." But I believe the complete opposite of this; every life is important and special, God made us all for a purpose. No person is nothing or worthless. I find it atrocious the wasting of lives that happened in a time that seems so recent. But we must remember these horrible things so we can condemn such happenings and not allow them in the future.

  • William
    2019-04-26 07:19

    I met Thida in the 1980's, and came to read her book. A stirring first person (apparently ghost written) account of Thida and her family's escape from Pol Pot's Cambodia. Told simply and without hyperbole, it starts with a chill that builds to a shudder by the book's end. You experience the early days of the Leftist Khmer Rouge and their rapid rise to power and insistence that their political opponents were not to be tolerated. Shades of how our modern Left demonizes the Tea Party as "racist" and "hateful" and unfit for the political conversation. In what seems a blink of an eye, those "enemies of the people" were rounded up and made to serve. I remember a conversation with Thida in which she casually referred to an event that happened, "just after the killing season." The Khmer would wait for harvest or planting to be finished, and then routinely kill those it felt unfit.The escape to Cambodia and their refusal to accept refugees were as gripping as any novel.Deserves a place with Ji-li Jiang's RED SCARF GIRL as a non-polemical glimpse into the totalitarian system, and the quest for freedom.

  • Angus Whittaker
    2019-04-25 07:31

    This book is moving in the way that the events it tells of are horrifying, brutal, and sad. However, it fails to convey anything personal; we, as readers, have no real connection with Teeda Mam or her story. The writing is just too distant, too clumsy, to allow a feeling of interest in her life. The reason behind this is simple: it is a third person narrative. Joan D. Criddle, who actually wrote the book, was telling the story of Teedam Butt Mam, who I assume was sponsored by the former. To be completely honest, Criddle is not a good writer. While we can feel sorry, or even deeply sympathetic with those suffering in the "memoir", just as we would feel for people suffering around the world today, the connection between writer and reader is lacking, like a forwarded message. This book is good for establishing a sense of what it was like to live in Cambodia during the terrible Khmer Rouge regime, but if you're looking for a deep, haunting tale of human suffering, there are plenty of other books out there that will do a much better job of it.

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-14 11:11

    I have been so grateful for my decision to participate in the Olympic Reading Challenge because it has given me the opportunity to learn about people, places, and events that I would probably never have learned about, otherwise. This book is the story of Teeda Butt Mam who grew up in an elite, wealthy family in Phnom Penh prior to the fall of the Cambodian governemt under the Khmer Rouge. It details the genocide of millions of Cambodians under the hands of the Communist Government. It is amazing to me that I was totally unaware of this happening in my lifetime! The book helped me to continue to change my outlook on the rest of the world and the individual worth of people all around us. It is so easy to get wrapped up into our prideful, nationalistic ways and not have the appropriate love and respect that we should have for people wherever they live...and to do more to reach out a hand to those in need of support and understanding. I am resolved to do more about the problem of refugees around the world who long for peace and freedom.

  • Lacey
    2019-04-22 07:25

    This amazing story of what Cambodians went through between 1975 and 1979 leaves me to wonder how America could stick its nose into a war with Northern Vietnam in order to try to prevent communists from taking over Southern Vietnam, but America completely overlooked the much more barbaric communist struggle in Cambodia until the Vietnamese actually invaded Cambodia and became near saviors of the Cambodian people who had been living in poverty and genocide for 4 years. This story really makes me consider how petty my own problems are at times. Something else interesting to me is the depiction of the kinds of promises and ideology forced on the Cambodian people by their communist enslavers as they were taking control that is also being forced on us as American people at this time by some of our government leaders. We should definitely take to heart this story and realize that history can and does repeat itself if we are complacent.

  • Danielle
    2019-05-02 14:11

    This was a terrible, wonderful book. I definitely didn't like it, but I'm very glad I read it. This book made me marvel that such atrocities could exist in a modern era, but more so that I could have been ignorant of them all this time. Seriously, I knew next to nothing about the "Cambodian Holocaust" as it is referred to in this book. The disregard for life on the part of Communist leaders in Cambodia was appalling and unfathomable. Really, how could such a thing happen? In this kind of book, I'm more interested in whether the writing gets in the way of the story or not, which is a pretty low bar to set. This author passed, although you certainly wouldn't read this book for the stunning prose. It was a very moving story and made me question so many things (both materialistic and ideological) that I take for granted in my life. It's really incredible what this familyi was willing to sacrifice for freedom.

  • Amanda James
    2019-05-14 14:05

    There are many books telling personal accounts of the horror of living under the Khmer Rouge and it's hard to know which to choose when first getting acquainted with Cambodia's history. Make this the one you chose. I have never read a more moving book. The story of this family is unbelievable and yet it was all recounted from the survivors themselves. It is endlessly impressive to me how well the author told the story of this family and I imagine it must have taken countless hours of time to listen to their stories. It is truly inspiring, as a reminder to listen. Everyone has a story. And, as a necessary shock to our systems, to learn as close to firsthand as possible what life was like for millions of people. A must-read, even if (and maybe especially if) you've never thought about Cambodia before.

  • Marie
    2019-04-25 13:26

    This is an amazing story of family, survival, perseverance, and resilience in the face of incredible adversity. It's the story of Teeda Butt and her family's survival of the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s. The story itself is worthy of five stars, but I found the delivery oppressive.My complaint is that it reads like a history text or research paper. It's very informative, but after setting it aside for months I had to force myself into a chapter a night goal to get through it. About 3/4 of the way through I was anxious enough for the outcome to want and choose to read more than my required chapter. The mater-of-fact dispassionate delivery that kept me from falling into the book is likely a blessing in this true account as it simply can't be considered entertaining to anyone with a heart.I highly recommend this book for it's moral and historical value.