With the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975, gently bred, 15-year-old Teeda and 15 members of her upper-class family were among millions driven from Phnom Penh into the countryside. The Pol Pot regime used systematic mass genocide against its own people, especially the educated and helpless, to wipe out the old society. Before Teeda's family emigrated to America in 1980, they led a slavelike existence, working in labor crews to clear jungles, build dams with their bare hands and plant rice in snake- and leech-infested paddies. Ably assisted by Criddle, who sponsored their emigration, Teeda recalls a life of constant terror, climaxed by two perilous attempts to escape across the mined and patrolled border into Thailand after the defeat of the Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese. These two women have created a poignant testament to the human will to survive. (July 24)
When the Khmer Rouge achieved victory in Cambodia (Kampuchea) in 1975, Teeda Butt Mam and her well-to-do family left Phnom Penh as the cities were cleared of all inhabitants. For the next four years Mam experienced constant fear, hunger, and deprivation. And death; thousands of her compatriots were killed by a regime seemingly intent on not only rewriting the past, but on destroying all who remembered it. Mam's story, told to Criddle (who sponsored the family's emigration to the United States), reveals with simple sensitivity and insight another perspective of the nightmare brought to light in the film The Killing Fields. A moving, difficult, important book. Highly recommended. Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib, Durham, N.C.
YA A documentary account of the treatment of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge, written by a keen observor of character and events. Life changed radically for the 15-year-old narrator when the regime took control, turning lives and values upside down. Anyone with education was marked for death; the people of the cities were driven into the countryside to a life of forced agricultural labor under harsh conditions. Positions of responsibility were given to the uneducated and unskilled. As a matter of survival, Teeda learned to hide any sign of her previous education and urban way of life. Although her father was killed, the rest of her family managed to stay together, and her close family relationships sustained Teeda throughout her adolescence. The story of her escape is suspenseful, and the book is sure to hold the interest of teenagers. A fine addition to collections of Southeast Asian history and biography, and a good focus for the study of values. Rita G. Keeler, St. John's School, Houston