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Book Review: The Immortal Seeds: A Tribute to Golden Treasures

The Immortal Seeds: A Tribute to Golden Treasures. Sambath Meas. Golden Boat Press, April 20, 2018, Trade Paperback and E-book, 200 pages.

Reviewed by Roger Prosise.

The Immortal Seeds is the incredible story of a family’s escape from communism in Southeast Asia to freedom in America. The story is told from the point of view of the author’s parents, Sarin and Strey Touch Meas, peasants who worked nonstop to provide for their family. The author was a young girl in the story. While many of the narrator’s relatives didn’t survive the regime of Pol Pot, Sambath Meas’ parents were devoted to surviving and providing for their family in the midst of war. Out of necessity, the couple lived apart from time to time. 

This book gives a personal account of civilian life in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war, and highlights the impact of the conflict between Chinese-backed communism and U.S.-backed democracy on families and civilians. It details the struggle to survive in a poor country which is constantly at war. Food was scarce and the government was unstable.

Sarin and Strey Touch led hard and challenging lives. Desperate to find a job with a steady income, Sarin applied for a teacher’s assistant position in a remote village in 1964. From there, for almost two years, Sarin drifted like a vagabond who chased his dreams but came up empty. Strey, Sarin’s wife, is also a key figure in the story. She endured the hardships along with the others, slaving away at home and in the pineapple fields.

The Immortal Seeds gives the reader an Asian perspective on the wars in Southeast Asia, including the Vietnam War. Families did not care who won just as long as the war ended. They were used by leaders vying for power while ordinary people had to fend for themselves.

The book is filled with authentic and eye-opening examples of the cruelties peasant families encountered during the war between the American-backed Khmer Republic and the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Many people went hungry during the war but through hard work and drive, the author’s parents lived comfortably for a time and ultimately found freedom.

The Khmer Rouge were the victors of the war and ordered everyone to evacuate the city. The author’s family was one of the last to leave and eventually headed for Thailand. The trek from Cambodia to Thailand was filled with gruesome tales of bodies discarded on roadsides and peasant families struggling to stay alive. Sarin and others packed up their belongings and ran for their lives as the thundering sound of grenade blasts and gunshots got closer. 

The Immortal Seeds continues with the incredible journey from Thailand to Americaprovides another reality of war, and is a compelling and insightful read. Photographs of key people in the book are included. 


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