Alive in the Killing Fields: Surviving the Khmer Rouge Genocide

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Alive in the Killing Fields: Surviving the Khmer Rouge Genocide

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Martha K. Unruh
When the Khmer Rouge came to his village, burning the grass-roofed huts and shooting people randomly, Nawuth and his family hid in a ditch. Tricked into revealing their presence, his grandmother is shot first, pleading for their lives, and then his uncle, aunt, and babysitter. A single bullet pierces his mother and baby sister. Nawuth, only eleven, is shot three times, but survives by pretending to be dead. In the horrific months after, Nawuth, his surviving family members, and thousands of Cambodians are stripped of their possessions and forced to work long hours in rice fields. Occasionally Nawuth is reunited with his father, who eluded the enemy for a time by hiding in the jungle. Starved and tortured, brutally force-marched from place to place, the little family somehow stays together while around them many are being slaughtered. After three hellish years the Vietnamese invade Cambodia, bringing some relief. But life is still so full of hardship that Nawuth's older sister and her husband seek a way of escape for all of them. Told with stark simplicity, Nawuth's narrative is memorable yet accessible to young readers. Biographer Kendall notes in the foreword that the sentences are hers but the life story is his. This book and four companion titles each won the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People Award. Reviewer: Martha K. Unruh
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—At age nine, Keat was rousted from his bed by Khmer Rouge soldiers. After savagely murdering most of his family, they shot him three times and left him for dead. Miraculously, he survived, only to spend the next few years fighting for his life and running from the Khmer Rouge along with his remaining family members. Eventually, he and his siblings made their way to a refugee camp where his older sister bought his freedom. In this memoir, written with the assistance of his college professor, Keat paints a poignant portrait of life as a child in Cambodia in the 1970s. His skills, cunning, and sheer will to survive enabled him to endure devastating occurrences and difficult living conditions. The story is not for the faint of heart, as suffering torture at the hands of soldiers, subsisting solely off of rice chaff, and being forced to sleep among human remains are only some of the atrocities he suffered. Keat's story is compelling and concise, and readers will find themselves invested in his eventual escape.—Kelly McGorray, Glenbard South High School, Glen Ellyn, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Written in collaboration with his college literature professor, Keat tells the compelling story of how he survived the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. The fifth of eight children, Nawuth was nine when the Khmer Rouge came to his small village. Nawuth's father was a successful rice farmer, making the family one of its most prosperous-and a prime target for the Khmer Rouge, which captures and enslaves them. Forced to labor with hunger and physical brutality as constants, Nawuth eventually loses his parents, younger sister and several other members of his family; his resourcefulness and determination to keep the rest alive are inspiring. His recollections are vivid and often horrific, though the disjointed narrative sometimes makes it difficult to follow the chronology. As compelling and poignant as Nawuth's personal story is, though, the lack of any historical context is a significant oversight. Without even an introduction or historical note to guide them, young readers will not understand what the Khmer Rouge was or why it engaged in a genocidal campaign against its own people, rendering this moving memoir incomplete. (time line) (Memoir. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426305153
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 772,212
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2013

    Alive in the Killing Fields is an amazing read! I highly recomme

    Alive in the Killing Fields is an amazing read! I highly recommend this book. Alive in the Killing Fields is a very upsetting story which will leave you appreciating all that you have now in your life. Alive in the Killing Fields is about a young Cambodian boy growing up through the evil power of the Khmer Rouge. He and his family with all the other civilians are struggling to survive the harsh treatment of the Khmer Rouge. They are forced to work in the rice fields and not eat any of it. The Khmer Rouge will kill anyone who complains or who they don't like. Families are seperated and killed in front of each other. This book is very descriptive and a great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    I read the book Alive in the Killing Fields by Nawuth Keat. One

    I read the book Alive in the Killing Fields by Nawuth Keat. One of the things that I enjoyed about this book was the fact that everything that Keat describes is full of detail, which makes you feel as if you were present in the scene. Another thing that I found as a positive to the book was the fast pacing of it. Keat gives you just enough information on the subject to keep you on the edge of your seat without “boring” you with the time or “dull” details in between. I think you would like this book if you are interested in the movement of the Khmer Rouge or if you just want to read a book that you won’t want to put down! Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I would give it a 3½ stars out of 5!

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    Posted May 17, 2012



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