First They Killed My Father Book Summary – January 2022

Author: Loung Ung

Short Summary
First They Killed my Father (2000) shows a five-year-old daughter of a Military official who penned down the tragedies and brutality that she faced during the Khmer Rouge regime in 1970. She has beautifully narrated how the genocide took place in Cambodia, how her father got murdered, and eventually, her entire life got changed. It gives goosebumps to the readers.
first they killed my father book
Source: amazon.com

Detailed Summary

First they killed my father book depicts the history of Cambodia. It is a true story narrated by a five years old girl named Loung Ung who witnessed the brutality that happened in Cambodia during Khmer Rouge Regime. In 1975, a communist rebel army took over Cambodia. They started killing innocent Cambodians brutally. The situation got worse every day and the number rose to 2 million.

The writer Loung Ung in first they killed my father book explains how her life got completely changed because of the Cambodian Civil War. She was a daughter of a high-ranking military official. She had six siblings but she lost some of them during the genocide or some got separated.

The way Loung Ung narrated the tragedies and brutality that happened with her family and how she got through it leaves you speechless. Your heart will ache for her family and innocent Cambodians who lost their lives during Khmer Rouge Regime.

First they killed my father Key Points

Life is unpredictable

Loung Ung belongs to the middle class but was living a comfortable and privileged life in Cambodia. Her father was a high-ranked Military Official. They used to live in a modern apartment in Phnom Pehn. At that time, everybody was not privileged enough to send their daughters to school but Loung Ung was lucky enough to attend school as well.

She and her family were living a simple but peaceful life. But one day, a communist rebel army entered the country and changed their life completely. It was Khmer Rouge who won the Cambodian Civil War and took over Cambodia and started mass killing. Their aim was to enforce communism in the country.

Loung Ung’s father being a Military official, his life was in danger. They left everything there and fled to the Capital. When they moved to the other city, they needed to change their identities in order to keep themselves safe and sound. They started working in the field to make both ends meet.

The murder of Ung’s father

Although Ung’s family moved to a different city, changed their identity, and started living a simple life. But this was not the end. They had to work a lot and their master took advantage of them. Slowly, the situation got worse there and people started dying because of hunger. They do not have enough food to go around. Some people got sick and some starved to death. Loung’s family was treated badly there as they were educated.

During that time, her sister went to work in a camp. She got sick there. As nobody from her family was there with her. She was alone at the hospital and tragically died.

She lost her sister first and then her father when his identity got revealed. Khmer Rouge Regime killed him and threw his dead body in a mass grave. The way Loung lost her father was so devastating. At such a young age, she lost her two family members which changed her life completely.

Life goes on

Besides all of this, first they killed my father book tells us that life goes on. Even if you lost your dear ones, you still have to survive for yourself.

Now after his father’s murder, their identity got revealed. They had to be more vigilant.  Ung’s mother in order to protect her children, she sent them to a different city so that people know they are orphans and so nobody will be able to trace them.

Her mother had to make this difficult decision. Ung moved to a different city and started working for orphaned children in a camp.

Only her four years sister and mother were there. But unfortunately, they got executed by the regime as well.

One after another, Ung lost her family members. The tragedies made her so strong. The Cambodian Civil War changed her entire life. She finally got freedom as a US citizen because of her mother’s difficult but wise decision.

Who would I recommend First They Killed my Father Book summary to?

All those people who love history need to read this book so that they can feel the pain of a young girl and her family. Moreover, first they killed my father is also recommended to the privileged people who have all the luxuries of this world and think that they will forever be there with them. It will make them realize that life is unpredictable and nothing remains forever.