First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers is a 2000 non-fiction book written by Loung Ung, a Cambodian author and childhood survivor of the Pol Pot regime. It is a personal account of her experiences during the Khmer Rouge years.
Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loves the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. While her beautiful mother worried that Loung is a troublemaker — that she stomped around like a thirsty cow — her beloved father knew Loung was a clever girl.
When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army storm into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung’s family fled their home and moved from village to village to hide their identity, their education, their former life of privilege. Eventually, the family dispersed in order to survive. Because Loung was resilient and determined, she trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans whilst other siblings were sent to labour camps. As the Vietnamese penetrate Cambodia, destroyed the Khmer Rouge, the surviving siblings were slowly reunited. Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother, the vision of the others and sustained by her sister’s gentle kindness amid brutality, Loung forged herself a courageous new life.