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Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer…
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Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge

by Jennifer H Lau

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Beautiful Hero is a narrative autobiography of a woman's experience of the Cambodian genocide as perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in the later half of the 1970s when she was just a child. It is a combination of a releasing act of therapy for the author, an insightful personal history into a seldom discussed event, and a tribute to the writer's mother.

It can be difficult to review books like this. The experiences contained within memoirs of atrocities are so personal that it can feel sacrilege to comment on the text as a piece of literature. In this case, it is made easier by virtue of the fact that this story is extremely well written. In fact, it reads so smoothly that I found myself needing to reconfirm that I was, indeed, reading nonfiction.

This book is an emotionally challenging read as one might expect given the topic; however, I've always held that it is necessary to strengthen ourselves against these sorts of things. If I cannot face this person's trauma on the page, how much strength will I have to stand should such nightmares rise up before me in real life? How many good people turned their backs on wrongdoings because they lacked the emotional fortitude to look and see? It is with thoughts like that in mind that I read books like this; in the hopes, that should the time come, I will be strong enough to do what is right. ( )
  Zoes_Human | May 16, 2019 |
Evil did not triumph over this family, and the daughter credits her mother for the fact that this nuclear family was not included in the 3 million people who died during the reign of terror in Cambodia/Kampuchea. It's a hard book to read because it's true. If you read Love Songs From A Shallow Grave and thought it was only fiction, this saga of the determination and perseverance of Meiyeng to bring her family through this should disabuse you of such idiocy, and every victim of violence will tell you that the anguish resurfaces long afterwards. A truly compelling book.
I won an ebook copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. ( )
  jetangen4571 | Aug 6, 2018 |
Meiyeng led her family of eight through genocide, starvation, disease and unthinkable atrocities in Cambodia. Despite the fact that one/third of the country’s population died during this time, Meiyeng kept her family together and alive. Told from her daughter’s point of view, this was a heart wrenching story of survival and determination. This was a fascinating book, it was hard to put down. I haven’t read much about the Cambodia genocide and this book was an eye opener. Overall, highly recommended. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Jan 19, 2017 |
From April 1975 through September 1979, the author family suffered hardship and fight for survival in war torn Cambodia. There were many victims of the brutal Khmer Rouge genocide. This is a story of one family, and a mother in particular who when to desperate lengths to save and protect her family. Gene’s family was forever in fear of being whacked and dumped. The descriptions are graphic, but reflective of reality. Maps, photos, and family trees provide context. ( )
  bemislibrary | Dec 6, 2016 |
A fellow human of the same age as I. Myself born in the Netherlands, since 1945 free from war or oppressors. She born in Cambodia on the eve of Khmer Rouge's version of communism imposed on the fellow countrymen. In Beautiful Hero: How we Survived the Khmer Rouge, Jennifer Lau delivered her autobiography starting in April 1975 with a forced evacuation. Mother Meiyeng and her family were marched off to a giant concentration camp. Even stronger than Jennifer's father, and grandparents, it's her mother that's leading the family. Haggling, acting as an in-between in the unlikeliest of markets, getting pregnant during the war, and as stubborn as needed in the struggle for survival.

The family's escape from the concentration camp, hiding in another district in Cambodia, a flee to Thailand, and a return to Cambodia means four tough years of casualties, suffer, sickness, stress, keeping the extended family intact amidst the loss of collectivism. A genocide - a third of the country's initial population of over six million people - is brought back to the scale of a single family tossed between Khmer Rouge, Vietnamese, and Tahi. Mine fields, navigating jungles, and barren lands not willing to commit suicide to avoid repeated fates after incarnation. This family, since 1979 relocated to America, collaborated to revive this piece of cruel history in Cambodian revolutionary 70s. Prepare your read. It's an emotional roller coaster ride from page one until the epilogue.

About the author ( )
  hjvanderklis | Nov 17, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0998079898, Paperback)

With only half a canteen of water and one baby bottle, a family of eight fought for their lives in the killing fields and land mines of Cambodia. Heroes emerge in the most unlikely places, under the most dangerous conditions. They are often the most ordinary of people facing extraordinary times. Surrounded by unimaginable adverse forces, one woman would ultimately lead her entire family to survive. Beautiful Hero is an autobiographical narrative told from a daughter’s perspective. The story centers around Meiyeng, the eponymous Beautiful Hero, and her innate ability to sustain everyone in her family. Meiyeng’s acumen in solving problems under extreme circumstances is thought-provoking and awe-inspiring. She shepherded her entire family through starvation, diseases, slavery and massacres in war-torn Cambodia to forge a new life in America. Over two million people—a third of the country’s population—fell victim to a devastating genocide in Cambodia. The rise of the Khmer Rouge posed not merely a single challenge to survival, but rather a series of nightmarish obstacles that required constant circumvention, outmaneuvering, and exceptional fortitude from those few who would survive the regime intact. Beautiful Hero suspensefully unravels the layers of atrocity and evil unleashed upon the people, providing a clear view of this horrific and violent time of the Cambodian revolution. The story highlights the most basic impulses of man: good vs. evil, individual vs. group, democracy vs. tyranny, and life vs. death. It is the ultimate story of love, sacrifice, survival, and redemption—and lives pushed to the limits. It reaffirms the good in humanity by showing how one family lived and survived with grace and dignity.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 16 Nov 2016 08:43:01 -0500)

With only half a canteen of water and one baby bottle, a family of eight fought for their lives in the killing fields and land mines of Cambodia. Heroes emerge in the most unlikely places, under the most dangerous conditions. They are often the most ordinary of people facing extraordinary times. Surrounded by unimaginable adverse forces, one woman would ultimately lead her entire family to survive. Beautiful Hero is an autobiographical narrative told from a daughter's perspective. The story centers around Meiyeng, the eponymous Beautiful Hero, and her innate ability to sustain everyone in her family.Meiyeng's acumen in solving problems under extreme circumstances is thought-provoking and awe-inspiring. She shepherded her entire family through starvation, diseases, slavery and massacres in war-torn Cambodia to forge a new life in America.Over two million people--a third of the country's population--fell victim to a devastating genocide in Cambodia. The rise of the Khmer Rouge posed not merely a single challenge to survival, but rather a series of nightmarish obstacles that required constant circumvention, outmaneuvering, and exceptional fortitude from those few who would survive the regime intact.Beautiful Hero suspensefully unravels the layers of atrocity and evil unleashed upon the people, providing a clear view of this horrific and violent time of the Cambodian revolution.The story highlights the most basic impulses of man: good vs. evil, individual vs. group, democracy vs. tyranny, and life vs. death. It is the ultimate story of love, sacrifice, survival, and redemption--and lives pushed to the limits. It reaffirms the good in humanity by showing how one family lived and survived with grace and dignity.… (more)

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