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4.8 out of 5 stars72
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 21 August 2007
This is an excellent book that describes the life of Haing Ngor through childhood and then in more detail during the 3 years of Khmer Rouge rule. It gives a harrowing insight into this communist regime through the eyes of someone with everything against him, and as a result is subjected to the worst of thier cruelty.

While it is excellent on the Khmer Rouge, it is equally interesting for the insights it gives into normal Cambodian life and customs. The description of his early life describes rural life and later his success in Phnom Penh.

This is the most moving book I have read and I would recommend it to anyone who takes an interest in Asia or Foreign Politics, the latter as a shocking example of how it can go wrong.
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on 12 June 2005
Dr. Haing Ngor's book on his life is probably the most heart breaking account of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. When I picked it up I literally read it in one go. And so will you. It is an amazingly absorbing story.

Starting off with his childhood, I found it amazing that a teenager as rebellious as Ngor nevertheless makes it into medical school and becomes a doctor working in a Phnom Penh hospital. Whilst he progresses we catch a good feel how quickly Cambodia falls into corruption during the Lon Nol regime. The take-over of the country by the Khmer Rouge in April 1975 was seen by some as a new beginning. It was indeed that, but rather different than people expected and one which still haunts the country today. Dr. Ngor's description of life under the Khmer Rouge makes every movie made on the subject a very polite first try. I think one should read all of it including the three bits Dr. Ngor suggests one (perhaps) shouldn't. Fleeing the country in 1979 to Thailand and then the USA, Dr. Ngor survives the killing fields. In the US he climbs to Hollywood success almost by chance. Dr. Ngor's life story is not a singular experience - everyone who survived the killing fields has a story to tell - but perhaps his was noted more than others' because of his Hollywood fame.

This book is a must for everyone interest in this part of Cambodian history.
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on 26 August 2004
This book is far more than a survivor's account of the Khmer Rouge era: it is also, unobtrusively, a lucid analysis of that regime and of the historical events that gave rise to it. Brilliantly written (or edited) - there is not one clumsy or cliche sentence to be found.
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on 21 May 2011
Survival in the Killing Fields is a very well written account of the events leading up to the 1975 takeover of Cambodia by the Khymer Rouge. I would urge anyone to read this account - if you know of the Khymer Rouge you will know what to expect - if you haven't heard of the Khymer Rouge you will be staggered at how cruel man can be.

The author, Haing Ngor, was a trained doctor and worked in the hospital in Phnom Penh, so was a target for extermination by the rebels, and consequently the new government.

I won't cover the whole story, suffice it to say it covers his trials and tribulations in great detail, and he warns at the start of some of the more graphic passages of what is to come, so you can avoid these parts if you want. I would recommend that you do not miss these passages out as, uncomfortable as they are, it is essential to read these to understand how brutal the regime was.

The twist in this extraordinary tale of survival, is that after his escape from Cambodia, Ngor was chosen to play the part of Dith Pran in the film, The Killing Fields. I particularly found his account of his arguments with the film production company as he felt the film was not brutal enough, very interesting as anyone who has seen the film will know how brutal the film is.

This version has an extra chapter detailed what has happened to the author since he completed this book, a tragic end to the life of a man who survived the killing fields.
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on 3 June 2004
This is a superb book. Moving, traumatic, and totally absorbing. I could not put it down. This book takes you on a journey from the early childhood of Haing Ngor, through his teenage and early adult life and into the trauma of life under the Khymer Rouge, both on a very personal level, but also how a simple and beautiful way of life was torn apart by outside influences and foreign powers. Thought provoking, emotional and first class. One of the best books I have read.
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on 15 June 2009
Well written and educational. It is a good way of putting yourself in the shoes of people that were there during the Khmer Rouge regime. Haing S. Ngor is an amazing man for surving the atrocities in Cambodia but sometimes I lost my sympathy for his personality a little bit. I thought he sometimes had some strange apathetic ideas about people around him which already starts in his early childhood. Altogether, it's a good book.
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on 16 November 2006
I have never been so gripped by a book and so emotionaly attached. Probably the first book to move me to tears. An incredible and heart renching story of an easy going doctor and his wife as they are moved from their easy lives under the corrupt yet peaceful regime of King Sihanok, to the disasterous communist ideals under the Khmer rouge, to Thailand to Hollywood and fame. Graphic details of torture, conspiracy and a great account of human behaviour under unimaginable pressures of a crazy regime are highlighted here. I was hooked from the introduction till the last word. Its probably the best book i have read.
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on 18 August 2012
This was a truly amazing book and it irks me that I won't be able to accurately portray the impact this has had. To begin with I rarely read this type of book, generally preferring fantasy or horror; but something about this being written from a survivor's point of view drew me to the book. Plus I had read a little about the Khmer Rouge and wanted to know more.

An important part of reading this book is to keep in mind that the trials for the crimes committed during Pol Pot's regime are still on-going and that reality of the ordeals suffered are still alive in the minds of Cambodians.

The book itself is written from the point of view of a truly amazing man. Dr Haing Ngor never tries to make himself out to be the hero or an idol; he is simply a survivor telling his story. Why and how he survived is a testament to the doctor's mind and his spirit, which although battered and bruised was never truly broken.

The story flows at a good pace and it was hard to put down at times, just as it was hard at times to read due to the brutal nature of the subject matter. There are moments which will push even the most hardened readers to the edge of tears and it really makes you wonder how humans can commit such atrocities.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough for both its content and its writing style and as other reviewers have mentioned; this is a book that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.
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on 7 October 2010
It is simply brilliant book not only full of sadness and cruelty, but also containing many facts and primarily a dramatic life story. I have already read couple of books on Cambodia and this one has capably combined historical facts with autobiographic moments (being prevalent), so that it brings really live image of the situation in Cambodia in 1970's.
It's been couple of weeks since I finished this book. I tried to start to read another one few days later, but until today I have not been able to get into it, because my mind still runs back to Haing Ngor's story.
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on 7 August 2010
Simply one of the best books i have ever read. The most important thing for me was the honesty of the author, because some of the story does not put him in a good light. It will totally put you in his shoes and make you realise life is not so bad in recession britain after all. A harrowing but compulsive read which fully describes the harsh reality within parts of the world i hope i never visit.
Totally engrossing, upsetting and compulsive to read.
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