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Friday, October 7, 2016

Dr. Bob Rich Falls in Love "Beautiful Hero"


Title: Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge
Author Name: Jennifer H. Lau
Author's Web site: http://JenniferLau.net 
ISBN:  978-0-9980798-0-6
Genre: Biographies and Memoirs
Link to buy in the USA
Link to buy in Australia 


Reviewed by Dr. Bob Rich originally for his Bobbin' Around Newsletter

Beautiful Hero, by Jennifer Lau






You’d expect a book with the subtitle “How we survived the Khmer Rouge” to be grim, and it is. At the same time, it is utterly gripping. I was racing through it with a sort of a morbid fascination. Surely, no one could survive this! But, obviously, the author had.

However, the unremitting parade of horrors, hardship, deprivation, death and disease did get to me, and after awhile I didn’t want to read on. I wanted to run away, to escape the story -- but it had caught me. I needed to find out how she’d managed to survive, and to become a highly functioning professional in America. So, I read on, and it gripped me, wouldn’t let me go, to the very end. No, I’ve finished, and it’s still gripping me now.
The story is told by an adult, much later, but there is an immediacy of the small girl as the witness, written in clear, plain language. She takes us into the horror with a matter-of-factness that makes me admire her all the more.
I always enjoy learning about cultures strange to me. From the first pages, Jennifer Lau intrigued me with things taken for granted among ethnically Chinese people in Cambodia, which I considered odd, quaint, ingenious -- or sometimes disgusting. Without info dumps or lecturing, always from within that little girl’s point of view, she taught me about beliefs and practices I hadn’t even imagined.
If you have ever felt sorry for yourself, reading this book will set you right. The worst you have experienced is nothing compared to what this family survived. And what distresses me is that, right now, there are other people suffering as badly, in the same way. They come from Syria, or are Rohingya from Myanmar, or Hazara from Afghanistan, or survivors of one of the many  African conflicts... that matters not, nor does their religion, or skin colour. Like Jennifer’s family, they are people with feelings, thoughts and sense of pain just like you have.
And, if given a chance, they will contribute to a society that adopts them in the exemplary way  Jennifer’s family has.
There is an interesting observation on page 27; one I wish today’s decision makers would note. Cambodia was a peaceful country. Then the Americans decided to cut off supplies to North Vietnam by dropping more bombs in Cambodia than all those in Europe and Japan during World War 2. Half a million people in a neutral country were killed. As a direct result, the terrible Khmer Rouge was born. This is what has been going on in Israel/Palestine from 1948 to the present. It’s what created the tragedy of Syria. The way to induce people to hate you is to attack them. Hate only leads to hate. Love is the only thing that can defeat hate.
One note of warning. Only read this book if you have a strong stomach, or, like me, the Buddhist skill to accept. Reading “Beautiful Hero” hasn’t given me nightmares, but it could well have.

 MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER





Dr Bob Rich is a multiple award-winning writer, professional editor, and professional grandfather. His Bobbing Around blog will inform, interest, inspire or outrage you — but never bore you.


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