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The Death and Life of Dith Pran

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  212 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Paperback, 112 pages
Published June 4th 1985 by Penguin Books (first published May 21st 1985)
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4.27  · 
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 ·  212 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Rebecca McNutt
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dith Pran, a Cambodian journalist, and his American photojournalist friend Sydney Schanberg, were faced with the trauma and harrowing ordeal of the Cambodian Genocide. Sydney made it back to America, as did Dith's wife and children, but Dith and Sydney were separated and Dith was sent to a prison camp where he witnessed first-hand the grief and horrors of war that ravaged everything he loved. This book is shocking and even disturbing on occasion, but it ends on such a powerfully inspiring note a ...more
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cambodia
Based on a magazine article for the New York Times, this book is disappointingly sketchy and shows that great journalists are not always great writers. It also gives you a clear notion of how much imagination went into the script for "The Killing Fields," which was based very loosely on this book. Roland Joffe took this bare-bones story, crudely laid out with only the faintest details, and created a powerful story of adventure and emotion. But Schanberg could easily have done much more with this ...more
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Though this book was quite short, it did give some background information of what happened in Phnom Penh and the day of the supposed invasion/attack. Some of the details explaining what an ordinary Cambodian had to suffer did bring me tears considering how true it was. The details that were written by Schanberg were limited only to the point of view of an American journalist.
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a true story written by a reporter about his friend who was trapped in Cambodia during the Viet Cong invasion. The movie "The Killing Fields" was based on this book. I really enjoyed the history and learning more about a war I didn't know much about.
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Not as riveting as I was expecting, I think because it focused mostly on Schanberg's experience and not on Dith Pran's. I have never seen The Killing Fields, but I am looking forward to seeing that and seeing how Pran's story is told there.
Adrian Colesberry
May 23, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a very short book. I felt like I was done before I started. I much preferred Haing Ngor's book. But the story is still compelling. A good short introduction to the problems in Cambodia.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Can't decide if this book was too short or just long enough. Still a must read, though, even if it's just to introduce and familiarize oneself with the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and Communist zeal.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
As it was mentioned by many community members, the story had been described from Schanberg’s point of view, not Pran Dith’s. In addition, it was originally published as a magazine article. Probably from these reasons the book is not so rich in details, my expectations were higher. Although the author focused mostly on Dith, he might have more elaborated the hard days spent on the French Embassy after Dith’s forced leaving and the circumstances of the embassy’s complete evacuation. After all, the ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
So when they said they turned a NYT article into a book, they literally meant they published the article as a book. Aside from a brief prologue and epilogue, there was no new information. It's disappointing to me that the bulk of this article dealt with Schanberg's emotional struggle over leaving his friend, rather than Dith Pran's rather amazing story. I found The Killing Fields (the movie based on this article) to be similarly white washed. If you're looking for a good first hand account of su ...more
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a good book, but not nearly as graphically depictive of what happened in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge as First They Killed My Father. That book was a lot more powerful, because it was written in the first person by a woman who survived the terror. This was more of a second-hand account by a Pultizer Prize-winning journalist who got out of the country before things went from bad to worse. It's about his obsession with finding his dear friend and colleague. But what happened to that col ...more
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written 1980 about events leading up to Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia April 1975.

Schanberg was a reporter for the NYTimes and he centers this little [78pp] book around his friendship with Dith Pran, a Cambodian man who was his assistant in Phnom Penh. So it's a highly personalized account, of both their lives. Schanberg does a really good job of outlining what was going on before, during, and after the takeover, using only a few brush strokes.

Dith Pran did manage to survive 'life' [more like
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
It was more about the author than the subject.
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not sure what words could describe this book; sad, and terrible life after the Vietnam war, well written by a man who witnesses the horrors of the war.
Feb 04, 2009 rated it liked it
This is the book the movie "The Killing Fields" was based on. The book is too much about the reporter with only occasional forays into what happened in Cambodia.
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is the book on which The Killing Fields was based. Sydney Schanberg was a writer at The New York Times and tells the story brilliantly.
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Sep 11, 2016
Gary Overton
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Mar 31, 2014
James Gallagher
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Nov 20, 2015
Seth Johnson
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Mar 13, 2017
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Nov 11, 2012
Lara Cole
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Dec 12, 2016
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Kimberly Mozdzen
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Jun 18, 2009
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Dec 30, 2015
larry guenther
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Feb 13, 2016
Elizabeth Roberts
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May 10, 2007
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Sep 23, 2007
Jeanette Settles
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May 29, 2016
Jim Parker
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Jul 16, 2008
N. Ryan
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Dec 06, 2016
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Sydney Hillel Schanberg was an American journalist best known for his coverage of the war in Cambodia. Schanberg joined The New York Times as a journalist in 1959. He spent much of the early 1970s in Southeast Asia as a correspondent for the Times. He has been the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two George Polk awards, two Overseas Press Club awards, and the coveted Sigma Delta Chi prize for distin ...more