Official Review: Starving Season by Seang M. Seng MD

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SABRADLEY
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Official Review: Starving Season by Seang M. Seng MD

Post by SABRADLEY » 14 Apr 2018, 10:20

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Starving Season" by Seang M. Seng MD.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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While the vast majority of people have heard of the Holocaust, many are unaware that there was a Cambodian Holocaust that took place from 1975-1979. The infamous Khmer Rouge was a communist regime responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodian people, although the actual number could be much greater. In Starving Season, Seang M. Seng, M.D. documents his own unlikely survival of the Cambodian genocide.

The memoir reveals Seng's experience inside the “killing fields," the term captives used to reference the labor camps they were forced into. After a mandatory evacuation from their homes, Seng and his family of twenty-four were moved from several transitional camps, gradually losing their precious few belongings. Everyone was obligated to work in the camps, including small children, the disabled, and the elderly. The laborers were rationed small bowls of rice that consisted almost entirely of water. Unable to sustain on these rations, starvation began to claim lives rapidly. In Seng's family, his infant niece was the first to perish. One by one, Seng's family members were lost to starvation, but Seng would have a different fate. He employed strategy to gain access to jobs that would provide him, and his remaining family, additional sustenance. He performed tasks outside his regular workload to gain the favor of various Khmer Rouge authorities. By doing so, Seng was able to prolong the deaths of a few of his family members, though ultimately, Seng would be the only survivor of the original twenty-four members.

This book commanded my attention immediately, as it starts at the time the Khmer came to power and began evacuating the cities into labor camps. The author does a remarkable job of maintaining an emotional distance from the events of his memory. What I found most poignant was how the author slowly came to realize the gravity of the situation and the inhumanity of the Khmer Rouge. As the regime streamlined their operations, their cruelty became increasingly transparent. The book is heartbreaking for its content, and I found myself especially mourning the suffering of children.

If I were to offer any areas for improvement, I would suggest another run-through in editing, as there were some minor areas needing attention. Another part that stuck out to me was the collection of photographs at the end of chapter five. I greatly appreciated the visuals, but felt there was something awkward about their placement. Some of the photographs pertained to information and people the author had yet to discuss. I also noticed a few occasions in which details were unnecessarily repeated.

Being a historical non-fiction enthusiast, I feel this book was put together nicely and was extremely eye-opening. I have much respect for the author and will not soon forget his bravery in reliving his experiences so as to share them with the world. I have rated this book 4 out of 4 stars.

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Starving Season
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Post by stacie k » 15 Apr 2018, 08:20

What a heartbreaking memoir! I’m amazed that he could maintain an emotional distance throughout his writing! Your feedback about the photos is especially helpful. A memoir such as this would certainly cement that portion of history into my mind. Thanks for a great review!
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Post by SABRADLEY » 15 Apr 2018, 12:05

stacie k wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 08:20
What a heartbreaking memoir! I’m amazed that he could maintain an emotional distance throughout his writing! Your feedback about the photos is especially helpful. A memoir such as this would certainly cement that portion of history into my mind. Thanks for a great review!
Thanks for reading and for the feedback :)

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Post by kandscreeley » 15 Apr 2018, 14:42

You are right. I am unfamiliar with this event. It sounds like a horrific time and something we should all read about. Thanks!
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Post by cpru68 » 15 Apr 2018, 16:12

I find it so important that people keep telling their stories so we don't forget. I cannot imagine not believing in the Holocaust or what the author has outlined in this story. Your review makes it sound like he did a great job in laying out the details no matter how painful it may be to read. We all need to keep this type of subject in front of us so we can learn and maybe, just maybe, not repeat history. I had never even heard of this, and it should not be ignored or forgotten. Thank you for your insightful and compassionate review.
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Post by SABRADLEY » 15 Apr 2018, 17:33

kandscreeley wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 14:42
You are right. I am unfamiliar with this event. It sounds like a horrific time and something we should all read about. Thanks!
Thanks for commenting :)

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Post by SABRADLEY » 15 Apr 2018, 17:34

cpru68 wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 16:12
I find it so important that people keep telling their stories so we don't forget. I cannot imagine not believing in the Holocaust or what the author has outlined in this story. Your review makes it sound like he did a great job in laying out the details no matter how painful it may be to read. We all need to keep this type of subject in front of us so we can learn and maybe, just maybe, not repeat history. I had never even heard of this, and it should not be ignored or forgotten. Thank you for your insightful and compassionate review.
I wholeheartedly agree with you. Thank you for reading and commenting. Cheers :)

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Post by mtsnel006 » 16 Apr 2018, 07:01

What a book that you read! It is so touchy, and yet unbelievable. I feel like I have read it too now. It is sad how the world operates at times, in the hands of the oppressors.
Thanks for this flawless review and choosing to review this book.
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Post by SABRADLEY » 16 Apr 2018, 11:40

mtsnel006 wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 07:01
What a book that you read! It is so touchy, and yet unbelievable. I feel like I have read it too now. It is sad how the world operates at times, in the hands of the oppressors.
Thanks for this flawless review and choosing to review this book.
Thank you for reading and for the insights and compliment :)

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Post by kfwilson6 » 17 Apr 2018, 16:14

I had not heard of the Cambodian holocaust. What a tragic event, and not even that long ago in the grand scheme of things. More recent than the holocaust of WWII so more likely to still have survivors. It's really sad that something like this can even happen. The number of people executed is just unimaginable.

I'm sure this was a difficult book to write, read, and review. Thank you for a great review so the author's story can get more attention.

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Post by SABRADLEY » 17 Apr 2018, 17:14

kfwilson6 wrote:
17 Apr 2018, 16:14
I had not heard of the Cambodian holocaust. What a tragic event, and not even that long ago in the grand scheme of things. More recent than the holocaust of WWII so more likely to still have survivors. It's really sad that something like this can even happen. The number of people executed is just unimaginable.

I'm sure this was a difficult book to write, read, and review. Thank you for a great review so the author's story can get more attention.
Thank you for reading and for the compliment. I was surprised to hear of the amount of casualties. The ordeal was so catastrophic. I found myself doing a compare and contrast with the Holocaust. I became very interested in this topic after reading this book.

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Post by Libs_Books » 24 Apr 2018, 12:00

kfwilson6 wrote:
17 Apr 2018, 16:14
I'm sure this was a difficult book to write, read, and review. Thank you for a great review so the author's story can get more attention.
I second those comments. Clearly this is an important book about a very terrible time in human history.

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Post by SABRADLEY » 25 Apr 2018, 20:26

Libs_Books wrote:
24 Apr 2018, 12:00
kfwilson6 wrote:
17 Apr 2018, 16:14
I'm sure this was a difficult book to write, read, and review. Thank you for a great review so the author's story can get more attention.
I second those comments. Clearly this is an important book about a very terrible time in human history.
I'm so glad the author has been able to honor his family and all the departed by living a full life. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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Post by kitrino1 » 30 Apr 2018, 03:07

Re: Starving Season by Seang M. Seng, MD.

You are correct Mr. Bradley! This book is riveting as we walk in the shoes of the author and can almost feel his anguish, his loss, his pain, and his occasional glimmers of hope--even though he writes in a way that also distances him from being the central person in his amazingly graphic story. Having visited Cambodia several times in the last few years, and returning on an annual basis, I almost want to trace his steps from his home near Olympic Stadium to his relocation through several towns and provinces. I am so in awe and sadness after reading this real-life detailed story of devastating family, community and country loss; I am happy with the final outcome in the United States which has such a happy ending for the author, his lovely wife and his three children! Congratulations Dr. Seang Seng for a truly captivating account of the Pol Pot years and beyond. Thank you Mr. Bradley for your insightful review!

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Post by Nmadinachi Egwim » 30 Apr 2018, 18:24

Historical non-fiction books like this one are so important, and need to be widely read. Truly, I'd never been aware of a Cambodian Holocaust and this review opened my eyes and drawn me a little more closer to this underrated genre. Thank you Sabradley!

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