The Best Memoirs of a Generation
238 pages; Harper Perennial
Because most of us have never known this side of war.
The war in Vietnam and Cambodia was seared into our minds from an American perspective. Loung Ung harrowingly recounts what it was like to live there when the Khmer Rouge stormed Phnom Penh in 1975. Her father was a target because he had been a military police captain. (All previous government officials, professionals and intellectuals were considered enemies.) For 20 months, the family survived as Ung's father hid his identity, braving starvation in the villages where they were sent after fleeing their home. One of the eight children had already died by the time the soldiers took Ung's father; he was never seen again. The rest of the family dispersed, hiding in a nightmarish world of labor camps and land mines. A story of survival and extraordinary courage. — Dawn Raffel