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Music Through the Dark: A Tale of Survival in Cambodia (Intersections: Asian and Pacific American Transcultural Studies)

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So begins the extraordinary story of one man's experience of Cambodia's holocaust during the 1970s. As Anne Frank did in her Diary, Daran Kravanh takes readers into the heart of a horrifying tragedy -- one that claimed the lives of his parents and seven siblings and as many as three million other Cambodians. Among those murdered were thousands of intellectuals and artists; So begins the extraordinary story of one man's experience of Cambodia's holocaust during the 1970s. As Anne Frank did in her Diary, Daran Kravanh takes readers into the heart of a horrifying tragedy -- one that claimed the lives of his parents and seven siblings and as many as three million other Cambodians. Among those murdered were thousands of intellectuals and artists; as a musician, Daran was himself a target for execution, but it was his talent for playing the accordion that saved his life. Throughout the Khmer Rouge period, the accordion became for Daran a seemingly enchanted instrument through which the spirit of life traveled.


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So begins the extraordinary story of one man's experience of Cambodia's holocaust during the 1970s. As Anne Frank did in her Diary, Daran Kravanh takes readers into the heart of a horrifying tragedy -- one that claimed the lives of his parents and seven siblings and as many as three million other Cambodians. Among those murdered were thousands of intellectuals and artists; So begins the extraordinary story of one man's experience of Cambodia's holocaust during the 1970s. As Anne Frank did in her Diary, Daran Kravanh takes readers into the heart of a horrifying tragedy -- one that claimed the lives of his parents and seven siblings and as many as three million other Cambodians. Among those murdered were thousands of intellectuals and artists; as a musician, Daran was himself a target for execution, but it was his talent for playing the accordion that saved his life. Throughout the Khmer Rouge period, the accordion became for Daran a seemingly enchanted instrument through which the spirit of life traveled.

30 review for Music Through the Dark: A Tale of Survival in Cambodia (Intersections: Asian and Pacific American Transcultural Studies)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mary Sharp

    Music Through the Dark is one of those books that makes you wonder why people read fiction at all, when nonfiction can be so incredibly entertaining & educational. I could not stop reading it. It is one musician's story of survival during the civil war in Cambodia in the 1970s and the Khmer Rouge killing fields. The book is magical and horrific; it really makes you believe that Satan must exist to read of some of the horrors of the time period. What's amazing is that the author maintains an upli Music Through the Dark is one of those books that makes you wonder why people read fiction at all, when nonfiction can be so incredibly entertaining & educational. I could not stop reading it. It is one musician's story of survival during the civil war in Cambodia in the 1970s and the Khmer Rouge killing fields. The book is magical and horrific; it really makes you believe that Satan must exist to read of some of the horrors of the time period. What's amazing is that the author maintains an uplifting tone, an attitude of hope and belief in the humanity despite it all. It's a real tear jerker & page turner and the author is a local Tacoma resident!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Huyen

    This amazing story will transform you in the fullest sense of the word. not only a melancholic story of brutality, horror, it is also an eloquent depiction of the will of survival, the power of humanity, fear, love, memories, faith, forgiveness and the indefatigable search for beauty in nature and human beings in the darkest moments of a survivor in the Pol Pot regime. The book, without being philosophically sophisticated, leaves you questioning what really matters in your life, what gives you t This amazing story will transform you in the fullest sense of the word. not only a melancholic story of brutality, horror, it is also an eloquent depiction of the will of survival, the power of humanity, fear, love, memories, faith, forgiveness and the indefatigable search for beauty in nature and human beings in the darkest moments of a survivor in the Pol Pot regime. The book, without being philosophically sophisticated, leaves you questioning what really matters in your life, what gives you the strength to survive and how much sacrifice you are willing to take to live as a true human being. If you want to immerse yourself in the world of beauty and courage, this book is for you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Graham

    A book to make you cry. Absolutely astonishing for its poetic prose. A love letter to music. To use a Buddhist metaphor, the pink lotus springing from the mud. The mud, of course, was the horror that the musician, Daran Kravanh, went through. A testament to the strength of the human spirit. Bravo Bree for producing such a carefully crafted work.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cameron

    One of the better crafted personal experience stories from the Pol Pot era of Cambodia, and one which provides a more introspective view of the survivor's thoughts and feelings. I've read about a dozen accounts of survival during the Khmer Rouge regime, and this is one of the few that really attempts to describe life in its entirety--there is a tendency among these accounts to focus on the brutality, pain and suffering and leave out everything else. Such stories are empty from a narrative standp One of the better crafted personal experience stories from the Pol Pot era of Cambodia, and one which provides a more introspective view of the survivor's thoughts and feelings. I've read about a dozen accounts of survival during the Khmer Rouge regime, and this is one of the few that really attempts to describe life in its entirety--there is a tendency among these accounts to focus on the brutality, pain and suffering and leave out everything else. Such stories are empty from a narrative standpoint, and can be very repetitive. Bree LaFreniere draws out her protagonist's sensations and emotions and depicts the world as seen through his senses--not just the horror of the Cambodian Holocaust. While the story is still painful and tragic, we feel much more as if we are there with Daran, listening to his music and feeling his utter hopelessness. My only complaint is that at the end we are left with "That is how I survived...", but then what? What made Daran decide to flee? How has he dealt with his memories over the years? The survival story by itself is less meaningful if not endowed with some meaning or value. Even so, my guess is that this book will stand out from the multitude of books on the Pol Pot era, many of which were ghost-written by less sensitive and less talented authors.

  5. 5 out of 5

    April Hochstrasser

    A story of survival and hope in the Pol Pot era of Cambodia. Although describing the inhumane treatment of people, it has a cast of hope in the retelling of this story. One day, Darran climbed a tree to get some fruit. He and his companions were suffering and starving. He says: "[My] attitude changed suddenly one day when I climbed a tree to pick some fruit and there, in the top of the tree, I saw some fish. These fish, known as ksan, were in a pool created by a huge round plant that attaches itse A story of survival and hope in the Pol Pot era of Cambodia. Although describing the inhumane treatment of people, it has a cast of hope in the retelling of this story. One day, Darran climbed a tree to get some fruit. He and his companions were suffering and starving. He says: "[My] attitude changed suddenly one day when I climbed a tree to pick some fruit and there, in the top of the tree, I saw some fish. These fish, known as ksan, were in a pool created by a huge round plant that attaches itself to the tree and fills with water when the Tonle Sap overflows into the forest. "I looked at the fish a long time. Finally I said to myself, 'If fish can live in a tree through some force of nature, I can live wherever fate puts me.' I then came to accept the circumstances of my life." The Khmer Rough soldiers were looking everywhere for defectors hiding in the forest and their treatment of them when found was horrible. Marching whole villages in to the forest, having them dig their own graves and then shooting them into the graves. We usually only hear about the German Holocaust, but this was just as horrific.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leisha Black

    Cambodia! Quote: "'If fish can live in a tree through some force of nature, I can live wherever fate puts me.' I then came to accept the circumstances of my life." This shorter book tells about a man who played the accordian and how he thought the music saved his life a few times. (His whole family but one brother was killed.) While this man was hiding in the forests from the Khmer Rouge soldiers, he climbed a tree to get some fruit. He and his companions were suffering and starving. He says: "[My Cambodia! Quote: "'If fish can live in a tree through some force of nature, I can live wherever fate puts me.' I then came to accept the circumstances of my life." This shorter book tells about a man who played the accordian and how he thought the music saved his life a few times. (His whole family but one brother was killed.) While this man was hiding in the forests from the Khmer Rouge soldiers, he climbed a tree to get some fruit. He and his companions were suffering and starving. He says: "[My] attitude changed suddenly one day when I climbed a tree to pick some fruit and there, in the top of the tree, I saw some fish. These fish, known as ksan, were in a pool created by a huge round plant that attaches itself to the tree and fills with water when the Tonle Sap overflows into the forest. "I looked at the fish a long time. Finally I said to myself, 'If fish can live in a tree through some force of nature, I can live wherever fate puts me.' I then came to accept the circumstances of my life." WOW!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Korynn

    This is a really beautiful book, although it is credited as being by Bree LaFreniere, it's more like, as told to Bree LaFreniere, because it is the story of someone else's life. I like that this book takes the trouble to explain Cambodian life before Year Zero, and that the language of this book is so melodic and intriguing. The subject of the book is really an artist and I really feel for him when he keeps asking himself, "why are they destroying cambodia?" Because, it's never made any sense, w This is a really beautiful book, although it is credited as being by Bree LaFreniere, it's more like, as told to Bree LaFreniere, because it is the story of someone else's life. I like that this book takes the trouble to explain Cambodian life before Year Zero, and that the language of this book is so melodic and intriguing. The subject of the book is really an artist and I really feel for him when he keeps asking himself, "why are they destroying cambodia?" Because, it's never made any sense, why did they so thoroughly destroy all Cambodian daily culture and craft?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Clark

    This is a memoir of suviving the unimaginable with compassion and humanity intact. Through the author, the Cambodian survivor of the horrors of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge speaks directly to you - you can almost imagine that he is next to you, speaking sdirectly to you. A tale of horror beautifully told.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Fayette

    I started reading books about Cambodia before a trip to the region. It takes great courage to remember and then share these experiences with others. This story of survival is similar to the others I have read, but it never becomes less horrifying.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I read this as part of my genocide research for our current eighth-grade reading. The tale is distressingly familiar -- more inhumanity, more killing, and so forth. The voice is engaging and thoughtful, and I feel like I learned a lot about the Cambodian genocide.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donna Gabbard

    This is the first I've read on the 1970s Cambodian civil war. Like accounts of the Holocaust survivors, it amazes me that Mr. Kravanh survived the terrible ordeals he went thru (hunger, beatings, oppressive manual labor, disease, etc.)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yen Tran

    I don't know how to express my emotion when I closed this book! Oh my...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Denise

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carter Garcia

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily Lees

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  20. 4 out of 5

    Soapie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Triggs

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nebojša

  23. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

  24. 5 out of 5

    Trinh Lien Huong

  25. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn Cook

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tabi

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Ponce

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Sherwood

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