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Stay Alive, My Son
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Stay Alive, My Son

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  814 ratings  ·  81 reviews
On April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh to open a new and appalling chapter in the story of the twentieth century. On that day, Pin Yathay was a qualified engineer in the Ministry of Public Works. Successful and highly educated, he had been critical of the corrupt Lon Nol regime and hoped that the Khmer Rouge would be the patriotic saviors of Cambodia.

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Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 30th 2000 by Cornell University Press (first published 1987)
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Prajakta Hello, Ceci! It's certainly a heart-wrenching tale, which leaves you shattered. But trust me, it goes beyond the inhumane treatment and the horrifying…moreHello, Ceci! It's certainly a heart-wrenching tale, which leaves you shattered. But trust me, it goes beyond the inhumane treatment and the horrifying history; it sheds light on love, family, hope, struggle and survival. So, why don't you read the book first before taking it up in your class for teaching. :)(less)

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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  814 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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Rebecca McNutt
One of the darkest chapters of modern history was the Cambodian Genocide, but this book captures in detail the resilience and courage of one little boy caught up in it. Definitely an amazing story.
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Pin Yathay was a government engineer when Pol Pot's regime took over Cambodia. He describes being marched with all the other residents of Phnom Penh, the capital city, to the fields to labor. This is his true story, told with simplicity and a sort of beauty. I bought this book in Cambodia, and it helped explain what we saw during visits to The Killing Fields and S-21, the Khmer Rouge's torture center. Although it's educational, it also just leaves you numb inside, wondering about our species, an ...more
Seylene  sl
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book in 2012, and I left my hard copy in Tokyo somewhere along the street as a gift to stranger..

The horror from the regime was inhuman and the worst nightmare..
Audrey L
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a hard to find book. My mom borrowed it from a woman who bought it on her trip to Cambodia. This is one of the best books I've read from an adults point of view what happened during the takeover of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge (the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, the totalitarian ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot)

The Khmer Rouge subjected Cambodia to a radical social reform process that was aimed at creating a purely agrarian-based
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Located this book in Siem Reap and purchased it rather reluctantly because my bag was already groaning with books and we were still two weeks away from home. However, I was pleased with my purchase as it offers a unique perspective on the deprivations of the Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime in 1975-79, told ex-university professor. Yathay survived by concealing his identity and by miraculously adapting to the brutal conditions and starvation of enforced collectivisation and peasantry. There is a he ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Portrays the days and months just after the Khmer Rouge took over, with the capital evacuated and people burning suddenly worthless money. More importantly, a very personal, very honest account of how psychologically heartless survivors become during extreme duress.

It seems to be that victims in such situations spend so much time ignoring or manipulating each other, that it's often not necessary for the dictators to enforce suffering one-on-one anymore. Why for example, were some decisions made
Sarah Louise Leach
What an incredible book, i took so much away from it. A narrative that read like an adventure film, a heartbreaking true account of the plight of the people of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, an insight into how quickly what you have can be lost, how quickly a politically vulnerable country can be taken over by so little ammunition and so much stealth and obfuscation.
What surprised me was how currency was de-valued within three days of the people being driven from their homes, and how survival
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: se-asia, cambodia
Wishing I'd read this book before a four-day whirlwind stop in Cambodia. We have no idea of the horrors that happened to innocents during the time of the Khmer Rouge and the "killing fields". Little by little the author lost every family member and all he owned. By luck and ingenuity he managed to escape the horrors which will fill his heart, mind and soul for the rest of his days. When does the world learn? This is happening again now in another part of the world and we know it, yet can't stop ...more
Karen San Diego
I read it in Filipino, translated by Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo. The descriptions were very graphic and real. I am very sorry for having no knowledge of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia much because of Sihanouk's involvement with the Vietnam war, until now. What happened was very horrible and I grieve for his family. This is very well-written and emotionally charged. Recommended for those looking for historical non-fiction wartime stories.
Will Peart
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Harrowing and revealing account of living through the Khymer Rouge era in Cambodia. The book is essential reading for people spending time in Cambodia wanting to fill the gaps of historical overviews and broad statistics with a human story representative of the suffering and horrors at the hand of Pol Pot and his 'Democratic Kampuchea'.
Ben Collins
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story of one family's survival during the Khmer Rouge. Thay must work toward the survival of his extended family in the harsh conditions of relocation including famine, illness and death. Gripping details of what it took for him to survive, and the family he lost along the way. Would you be willing to do anything to survive?
Stephen Castley
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. Difficult to read but harder to put down. Pin Yathay is an amazing writer and has crafted a very difficult and emotional memoir. Genocide in Cambodia is not an easy topic and for it to be told by the sole survivor of his family is an incredible accomplishment. Sadly similar books will soon be coming out of Burma / Myanmar.
Jo Scott
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
devastating and heart breaking to read but highly recommended. Purchased a dog eared copy whilst backpacking in South East Asia in 2008. The remnants of devastation still evident in this lovely country.
Gayle Winchester
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book broke my heart to read but it is such an insight into the life of the Cambodian people in the pol pot years you cannot ignore what they went through and still to this day the scars remain as the book explains
B Deg
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i'd like to give it more than 5 stars. Amazing story!!
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking narration of the brutality of fanatic totalitarism... I couldn't stop reading it...
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shattering story of one families suffering in the Cambodian atrocities. It should win the booker prize
Pam Ela
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story of one mans escape from Khmer rogue in Cambodia
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
The true story of Pin Yathay who was a goverment engineer when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia.
Not an easy book to read,it will haunt me for a while,it will stay with me even longer.
It's interesting to see how very quickly the situation of the country changes, how the people, first in denial, move to accepting, still hoping things will get better, then to survival mode before (for some of them), thinking of escaping or fighting (even if that simply means choosing how to die.)
Though it was written almost like an action-adventure story towards the end, this book was painful, pitiable to read-- the author trying to apply cool logic to the arbitrary, absurdly methodical Khmer Rouge regime while he's stripped bit by bit of everything and everyone that defines his life. As the story goes on Yathay lists his possessions several times, each list more impossibly small than the last, a metaphor at the end for the relationships equally stripped piece by piece, each loss imposs ...more
Hui Ya
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is the true story that the author suffered and escaped from the Khmer Rouge(赤色高棉), witnessed the deaths of his and many families and even abandoned his son.His return to freedom makes this book happen. I would of course say he was lucky being able to escape from the Khmer Rouge and continue his life. However, death was considered luckier than living at the time. This book explains a lot about what I saw and heard of in Siem Reap, even though the locals say they have much better life no ...more
Al Redman
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to get a greater gauge on the Khmer Rouge regime and their motivations. The book not only delivered that but a heart wrenching tale of loss and incredible resilience. Undoubtedly one of the greatest tales I have ever read and I feel a must read for anyone who is unfamiliar with the Khmer Rouge regime and Genocide. To think similar things are taking place in the world today ( West Papua) is a sad commentary on humanity. The book is so intriguing you will hardly believe what your ...more
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding memoir of survival. And the author was not trained for it, as we conventionally think of athletes, climbers, et al. having some fitness for it. I was astounded at all the turns of fortune that the author experienced, wrenched by his losses, and just simply amazed that he survived to tell the tale. The writing is good, and those especially interested in Cambodia in the time of the Khmer Rouge will find this all the more riveting. The tale also helps to destroy any illusions ...more
Indi Martin
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-enjoyed
This and "First They Killed My Father" are the two best-written books I have read regarding the tragedies and atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Having just completed a personal and harrowing viewing of the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng, this is to be the final book I read on this era in Cambodian history, I think. I have read enough and seen enough, so unless something "new" comes out that is definitive, I think I'll now let this era pass as a shadow into the histor ...more
Travis Kendall
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sad and relentless story of horror and suffering during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. This is the story of a family trying to stay together and alive in conditions of horrid brutality. It is also about how far people will go to escape from oppression. Yathay's story is frightening and sad and striking in that it shows the relentless and mindless brutality of the KR. Also, what makes this book interesting is that it deals with a single family and life on the ground as opposed to big picture pol ...more
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The best Khmer Rouge memoir I've read so far. Unlike the child narrators in "First They Killed My Father" and "When Broken Glass Floats," both of which were still quite good if slightly less satisfying, the narrator in this book is a married man with kids. As a result, you get a much more nuanced account of what happened, along with the added weight of his being responsible for children. The writing is crisp and clear, the story structured to slowly ratchet up tension. When I finished reading it ...more
David Vardy
The true story of a Cambodian Engineer named Pin Yathay, who survived the Killing Fields of Cambodia. He decided that he had to leave Cambodia to survive, but his young son was too sick to travel, so he had to leave his son at a Cambodian hospital, so that he and his wife could escape to Thailand. While running through the jungle of Cambodia, toward Thailand, Pin became separated from his wife, Any, and never saw her again. He is still looking for his wife and son.
This book is well worth reading
Aug 30, 2008 rated it liked it
The horrors of what happened in Cambodia during the Pathet Lao rule continue to provide books of memoirs by people who were lucky enough to live through the time and to be able to write about it after they escaped. This is another such memoir. In the process, the author lost most of his family and barely managed to reach Thailand. The book is well-written, but I guess I'm getting a bit bored with this litany of brutality and loss.
Camille Baird
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Bought this book while in Cambodia. Read it shortly after coming home and I am very glad that it was written to help us heal old wounds and hopefully not repeat this episode in history. Even though circumstances can be incredibly and unbelievable difficult and horrible people still survive and have such a strong drive to live and pursue freedom.
I am not going to say this was an easy book to read even though it didn't take me very long. I will remember it for a long time.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
An amazing personal recount of the emotions and responses to the forced migration, labour, separation and starvation perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, along with harrowing descriptions of executions and anticipation of them. A must read for anyone with a passion for human rights. The author lost every one of his rather large immediate family; the country lost a third of its population. What strength it must have taken to relive the horror by writing such graphic description.
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Yathay Pin was born in Oudong, a village about 25 miles north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Yathay’s father, Chhor, was a small trader, and his family, though not impoverished, was poor.

Yathay was the eldest of five children. His father had high expectations of him: Knowing that Yathay was an excellent student, Chhor sent him to a good high school in Phnom Penh. Yathay received a government scholarship