From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to the U.S. Secret ServiceLeth Oun with Joe Samuel Starnes
“I saw many killed. I almost starved. But I escaped to refugee camps in Thailand and eventually made it to the U.S.” Thus begins Leth Oun’s poignant and vivid memoir. A survivor of the Cambodian Killing Fields—having spent a torturous three years, eight months, and ten days imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge—Oun thrived in America, learning English, becoming a citizen, and working as an officer in the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division.
In A Refugee’s American Dream, Oun shares hard memories of Cambodia, where his father was executed and his family was enslaved.
Following the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Oun survived a year of homelessness then nearly four years in refugee camps. Arriving in America, 17 and penniless, Oun struggled, washing dishes at a Chinese restaurant for $3.15 an hour. Still, he persevered, graduating from Widener University and completing thousands of hours of training to pursue a career in the Secret Service.
While on President Obama’s protection team, he returns to Cambodia after 32 years, reunites with family, and bonds with Reik, the Secret Service dog he handles. Through his most difficult moments, Oun displays truly inspiring resilience that ultimately leads to great achievements.
The authors’ proceeds will go to help Cambodians in need.
“Leth Oun’s dramatic past is similar to mine and millions of other Cambodians who went through that dark period in the seventies. Today, we might be happy, but deep down in our hearts, the wound of that dark age remains. I highly admire Leth, who has not only achieved his American dream but also his effort to put the pieces of his traumatic experiences together in this beautiful book.”
—His Excellency Chhea Keo, Cambodian Ambassador to the United States
“Leth Oun’s moving story is deeply inspiring. He went to hell and back, and now embodies the American dream.”—Maria Goodavage, author of the New York Times bestseller Secret Service Dogs: The Heroes Who Protect the President of the United States
“Leth Oun is our Superman. He has overcome the kryptonite of a genocide and rose as a superhero for Cambodians everywhere.”
—Kosol Sek, Managing Director of the National Khmer Legacy Museum
“Through smooth and unflinching prose, A Refugee’s American Dream reveals a remarkable story of human loss, endurance, and resilience.”
—Sara Nović, author of Girl at War: A Novel
"A truly heartening story of sheer determination and the will to survive and thrive."