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To Destroy You is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family
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To Destroy You is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  731 ratings  ·  170 reviews
This amazing book was written by California author Joan Criddle, who has done a remarkable job in simulating the words of a Cambodian-American, Silicon Valley computer programmer Teeda Butt Mam, the daughter of a Lon Nol minor government official. When Phnom Pehn fell, Teeda was fifteen years old and attending an English school in the city. As a pampered child of a well-to ...more
Paperback, 294 pages
Published June 1st 1996 by East/West Bridge Pub. House (first published 1987)
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Kristopher Swinson
May 23, 2009 Kristopher Swinson rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kristopher by: Jonathan Krein
The title, as explained in the opening pages, is taken from a Khmer Rouge slogan, “To keep you is no benefit; to destroy you is no loss,” used to keep the Cambodian people in submission (see 93, 104, 153). Although this is not a literary masterpiece, it is an emotional one. I am grateful to come from a home where my father spoke of how America had betrayed Southeast Asia—not by being there, but in its failure and departure, a loss of nerve, principle, and commitment. This book speaks of the inev ...more
A book along the lines of Three Swans, this told the story of a Cambodian family suffering under the Communist regime instituted by Pol Pot. Over and over again, I see the same pattern of despots destroying family, religion, and education to control and demoralize people.
The family's perseverance and ability to cling to hope and each was inspiring.
Dec 06, 2008 Danny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a harrowing and amazing story, made only that much more incredible to know that it is a true story. It is not a book you can read lightly, and you may not smile for a day or two when you put it down, but it is still an absolute must read. We live in such an insulated and fortunate state that we can easily forget the kind of cruelty that still fills the world. A book like this is a powerful reminder of how fortunate we are, and how important it is that we try to make the world a better pl ...more
This is the fourth in a series of books that I have selected to read in preparation for a trip to Southeast Asia. A memoir, this one felt real and I learned so much, as Criddle is a gifted story teller. The unimaginable suffering of political refugees is painful to even imagine, and I found myself taking occasional breaks from the book. It is hard to really understand the scope of loss and devastation in these lives. The prologue and epilogue alone make this one of the more relevant books I have ...more
This was a thoroughly fascinating book and by far the best personal account of survival during the Pol Pot regime that I have read. Of the other 12 first-person stories that I've finished in the past year, only this book really attempted to put the survivor's experience into historical and cultural context, explaining some of the history and background to the Khmer Rouge nightmare and helping the reader understand how Khmer culture devolved during the communist nightmare (her portrayal of how Kh ...more
The writing is not five star quality, but the historical content is. This is a must-read, in my opinion. The author includes a succinct history of Cambodia before and after the fall of the government. The story chronicles a well-to-do family in Phnom Phen who was forced by the Khmer Rouge to leave their home at a moment's notice (the entire city of 3 million was evacuated within a couple of days of taking power). This family then toils under the insane regime for five years, eventually escaping ...more
Aug 09, 2008 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in World History
Recommended to Lisa by: College Professor
Shelves: non-fiction
This is one of the most moving books I have ever read. It is a biography written by an lds author in first person narrative. It chronicles the life of a young girl and her family in Cambodia in the 1970's. I read this book as part of a World History Class at BYU. WARNING: It is graphic and not a happy feel good story. It's been a long time since I read it but I learned things I had never even heard of that went on in our world at the time I was a young child. When my family was living in Kansas ...more
This book was intense. And really good. And mind-blowing. Its not the most well-written thing you'll read this year, but it is straightforward in its retelling of the true story of a young woman and her family who lived through the rise and fall of Pol Pot's Cambodian regime (Khmer Rouge) in the 1970's. I found the story truly compelling and could hardly put it down. I was fascinated not only by how Teeda and her family survived, but also by learning how the Khmer Rouge came into power and kept ...more
This is probably the saddest book I have ever read. I always tell my husband about the book I am reading as I am reading it and he kept asking me why I was reading this one because it was so depressing. I am one that thinks that even the sad points in history should be remembered (so that hopefully they won't be repeated) so I thought it was a worthwhile read. I am so grateful to this family for sharing their story, and I am so amazed with them for having gone through so much without giving up. ...more
The awesome true story of how the human spirit survives during the darkest of times. A Cambodian family's journey through the genocide in their country during the 70's. Totally enlightening, I wasn't aware of the extent of this country's suffering. And to think it happened during my lifetime. Unfortunately, it continues around the world today. Teeda and her family's story is real and well written. The everyday workings of a normal family in horrific circumstances and how they survive. I will be ...more
Angus Whittaker
This book is moving in the way that the events it tells of are horrifying, brutal, and sad. However, it fails to convey anything personal; we, as readers, have no real connection with Teeda Mam or her story. The writing is just too distant, too clumsy, to allow a feeling of interest in her life.
The reason behind this is simple: it is a third person narrative. Joan D. Criddle, who actually wrote the book, was telling the story of Teedam Butt Mam, who I assume was sponsored by the former. To be c
Amanda James
There are many books telling personal accounts of the horror of living under the Khmer Rouge and it's hard to know which to choose when first getting acquainted with Cambodia's history. Make this the one you chose. I have never read a more moving book. The story of this family is unbelievable and yet it was all recounted from the survivors themselves. It is endlessly impressive to me how well the author told the story of this family and I imagine it must have taken countless hours of time to lis ...more
Dawn Roberts
This is a harrowing, first-person account of life under four years of Khmer Rouge tyrrany and the terror of a year-long attempt to escape Cambodia. It is quite astonishing that the narrator and several members of her family survived at all. The story is heart-breaking, but the measured description of atrocities is acceptable for high school readers, IMO. This book does a good job of discussing the history of Cambodia and the conflicting political interests of the Cambodians, Vietnamese, Chinese, ...more
This piece of non-fiction is about a survivor of the Cambodian genocide that took place in the 1970s. Teeda Butt Mam is an amazing example of determination and hope, although her experience is horrifying and saturated with death.

I was reminded throughout of the blessings and possibilities that exist for us when we live in a free land. I can't help but wish for world peace after reading something like this. I'm interested in reading the sequel to this book. I was so impressed with Teeda's willpo
Trista Hibberd
I loved this book because of the history it shares. The life of Teeda and her family is told in all of its agony through this time of life and death. The fortitude and family ties they strove to maintain throughout their ordeal is inspiring. This story is beautifully told.
I struggle reading non-fiction, but when it's told in a personal way it engenders great emotional ties that can't be broken because I too live on this earth. While it's true that I did not live through such horrors, it is impor
I went to to visit a childcare centre in Cambodia a couple of years ago. There, I ate rubbery, tasteless bread (which is strange, as I've heard ex-colonies of France have good bread) but had flavourful, fragrant coffee. The caretaker spoke of Pol Pot over tea. I returned home to a stinking house of rotting meat in the freezer. (It's still the worst return home I've ever had.) A week later, I watched the 1984 Killing Fields movie. It was horrific. However, the life of the main character's actor, ...more
I met Thida in the 1980's, and came to read her book. A stirring first person (apparently ghost written) account of Thida and her family's escape from Pol Pot's Cambodia. Told simply and without hyperbole, it starts with a chill that builds to a shudder by the book's end. You experience the early days of the Leftist Khmer Rouge and their rapid rise to power and insistence that their political opponents were not to be tolerated. Shades of how our modern Left demonizes the Tea Party as "racist" an ...more
I have been so grateful for my decision to participate in the Olympic Reading Challenge because it has given me the opportunity to learn about people, places, and events that I would probably never have learned about, otherwise. This book is the story of Teeda Butt Mam who grew up in an elite, wealthy family in Phnom Penh prior to the fall of the Cambodian governemt under the Khmer Rouge. It details the genocide of millions of Cambodians under the hands of the Communist Government. It is amazing ...more
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Lesenia F
To Destroy You Is No Loss by Joan Criddle is really an eye opening book. It's about the Cambodian holocaust, something that I had never learned about. Considering this was fairly recent (within the past fifty years), I would have expected it to be something that I would have known.
Through Criddle's use of descriptive language, the reader gets a personal look at what life was like for Teeda and her family. This descriptive language appeals to pathos, making it hard not to sympathize for Teeda. Th
I read "Unbroken" (WW2 POWs in Japan), then "Left to Tell" (Rwandan holocaust), and now "To Destroy You is No Loss" about the Communist take over of Cambodia. These three books have left my heart truly grieving for the terror and suffering so many have had to endure because of power-hungry, diabolical individuals who were able to sway masses to commit atrocities against others. The first two mentioned books also are about forgiveness, but this book was a straight forward account of what happened ...more
This amazing story of what Cambodians went through between 1975 and 1979 leaves me to wonder how America could stick its nose into a war with Northern Vietnam in order to try to prevent communists from taking over Southern Vietnam, but America completely overlooked the much more barbaric communist struggle in Cambodia until the Vietnamese actually invaded Cambodia and became near saviors of the Cambodian people who had been living in poverty and genocide for 4 years. This story really makes me c ...more
This was a terrible, wonderful book. I definitely didn't like it, but I'm very glad I read it. This book made me marvel that such atrocities could exist in a modern era, but more so that I could have been ignorant of them all this time. Seriously, I knew next to nothing about the "Cambodian Holocaust" as it is referred to in this book. The disregard for life on the part of Communist leaders in Cambodia was appalling and unfathomable. Really, how could such a thing happen?
In this kind of book, I
Chrisann Justice
This was the first book I ever read about the Cambodian conflict. My sister Rebecca was reading it and recommended it to me. I got it from the library and have never forgotten the experience of reading it. I believe I was living in Cincinnati, Ohio at the time. Thinking about my favorite books reminded me of this one and I just ordered a used copy of it since it is out of print.
This book is a must read. It should be required reading for all high school students. It is the true story of a young Cambodian girl (age 15 when it began) that lived through the Khmer Rouge Communist takeover of Cambodia in 1975. It is unbelievable anyone survived or continued to have the will to live. It is unbelievable that this could happen and still happens in other parts of the world. It was difficult to read the atrocities that befell Teeda and her family and fellow countrymen and then lo ...more
Okay, maybe more like 3 1/2 stars, because I really couldn't put it down. The compelling account of the Cambodian genocide--which I had never even heard of--was stunning. I really enjoyed the Teeda's voice as she recounted her family's miraculous story of survival. The author was often able to portray a horrifying scene with only a few carefully chosen words, rather than being overly-graphic. I promise--it didn't take much description to bring some of the travesties to vivid life. The only thing ...more
How can I live in this world and be so unaware of the harsh and unpleasant events that occur on the other side of it? Books like this are difficult but important to read, and to personalize.
I really liked this book. I didn't really know much about what went on in Cambodia after the Vietnam war. If you like reading books about holocaust survivors you will probably like this.
This was a painful book to read. But it's one of those books you feel is also necessary and raises your awareness. I knew about the Khmer Rouge; I knew there was a genocide; I didn't know enough. The book is written with a surprisingly unemotional bend--just the facts and details, and very little extra. The writing isn't poetic or beautiful, but it doesn't have to be to keep you reading. It's a book that, when you finish, you can't help but feel 1) awash with gratitude for the fortune life has h ...more
This is one of those books that literally gave me nightmares. It's a horrible subject but I mark it as 4 stars because everyone needs to understand the real stuff that goes on in our world!! It seems to me that everyone knows about the WWII Holocaust, and recently people are realizing some of the violence in Africa, but this kind of stuff happens all over the world, in the past, in the present. Most of the horrors are unknown to the majority of us. I wish there was more we could do about it, but ...more
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“after all we had been through, we would still risk death rather than live under communists. The craving for freedom was too strong.” 1 likes
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