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The Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975 - the same year that the U.S. presence in Vietnam ended - and began a vicious genocide to return Cambodia to an agrarian society. The Khmer Rouge imprisoned, enslaved, and murdered the educated and intellectual members of the population, resulting in the harrowing 'killing fields' - rice paddies where the harvest yielded nothing but millions of skulls. Young Sichan Siv - a target since he was a university graduate - was told by his mother to run and 'never give up hope'! Removing his glasses (since only intellectuals wore them), he set out to bicycle across Cambodia. Captured and put to work in a slave labor camp, Siv knew it was only a matter of time before he would be worked to death - or killed. With a daring escape from a logging truck and a desperate run for freedom through the jungle, he spent months teaching English in a refugee camp in Thailand while regaining his strength, eventually Siv was allowed entry into the United States. Upon his arrival in the U.S., Siv kept striving. Working variously as an apple picker in Connecticut a burger flipper, and a New York City cab driver, Siv became a graduate student at Columbia University. During this time he befriended Dith Pran - subject of "The Killing Fields". His perseverance was noticed while working on the campaign of George H.W. Bush in 1988, and he was offered a job in the White House; eventually rising to become a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780061340680
ISBN-10: 0061340685
Format: Hardback
(229mm x 152mm x 31mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: HarperCollins
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
Publish Date: 3-Jul-2008
Country of Publication: United States


US Kirkus Review » The uplifting saga of a man who escaped genocidal Cambodia, became a U.S. citizen, then served in the Bush I and Bush II administrations.After recounting his privileged childhood and adolescence, Siv chronicles six years of "life under the sword" as the fledgling Cambodian republic battled first the North Vietnamese and then the murderous Khmer Rouge. After this communist faction took Phnom Penh in April 1975, the author, a college graduate and teacher, was relegated to grueling slave labor. In 1976, he worked up the courage to escape, crossing the border into Thailand on foot. Sponsored by an American family in Wallingford, Conn., Siv immigrated at age 28 to the United States, where the second half of his memoir takes place. After menial employment in restaurants and a stint as a New York City cab driver, he gained admission to the Columbia School of International Affairs and graduated into white-collar jobs. Eventually, Siv's intelligence and ambition brought him to the attention of prominent Republicans, who recruited him into the administration of George H.W. Bush as a deputy assistant for public liaison, charged with informing Americans from various organized constituencies, including uprooted Cambodians and other Southeast Asians, about the president's policies. He was able to return to Cambodia on official missions, and he shares his understandably strong emotions as well as his findings of fact while observing his native country's struggles to return to a civilized state. Writing in his adopted language of English, Siv relies heavily on cliches and oversimplified scenarios, proclaiming his love for America in chapter after chapter. His chatty prose is easy to absorb, but his editor ought to have insisted on logical transitions between scene shifts. After George W. Bush entered the White House, Siv returned to politics, this time as a deputy ambassador to the United Nations, serving until 2006.Occasionally tedious, but often moving and frequently educational. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Books By Author Sichan Siv

Golden Bones by Sichan Siv

Golden Bones

Paperback / softback, September 2009