Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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Slave labor. Death marches. Refugee camps. Not the path most diplomats follow to the corridors of power. But that's just the road Siv traveled in this mostly gripping firsthand account of pain, perseverance and survival. In 1975, Siv, scion of a middle-class Cambodian family, got caught up in the murderous campaign of social re-engineering unleashed on that Southeast Asian country in the wake of the Vietnam War. "We saw decomposing bodies with arms tied behind their backs. One had the throat slit open. One had a big black mark on the back of the neck. A woman had a baby still at her breast," Siv writes of the scene following the Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh. Later, forced to leave his beloved family behind in a labor camp, he sets out to find freedom. "I was the loneliest person on earth," Siv writes. "Not knowing what had happened to Mae [his mother], my sister, and my brother was torturing me. But I had to move onward." Siv survives countless brushes with death, but makes it to Thailand and eventually the U.S. At times, incidents, people and places pile on top of each other without much space for the reader to reflect on or make sense of them. Still, the story is always compelling, and Siv moves the narrative forward by raw force of will. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved