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Cambodia's Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land Paperback – September 4, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Kirkus, February 15, 2011
“An excellent…account of a country whose historic poverty, exacerbated by the Vietnam War, remains remarkably unchanged.”
“A riveting piece of literary reportage.”
San Francisco Chronicle, April 16, 2011
“As a young reporter, Brinkley won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for his coverage of the Cambodian refugee crisis. Returning to the region 30 years later, Brinkley - now a professor of journalism at Stanford - chose his subject well…[he] admirably…demonstrates that Hun Sen's administration has been a disaster for many Cambodians.”
The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2011
“Illuminating…Mr. Brinkley won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for covering Cambodian refugees, and he weaves the details of the nation's underbelly into a compelling argument, interviewing powerful figures and foreign officials involved in politics, courts, hospitals, land development, forests and schools.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Although the author has gone to great pains to research the relatively recent events of Cambodia, his knowledge of the deeper history are flawed, troubled, and shallow. He shows us the of face of corruption - and indeed Cambodia is a nation steeped in that history -- and the conditions of the citizens that have resulted. Unfortunately, his ultimate vision is as a Westerner, peering over the wreckage. This is our own kind of corrupt preoccupation: A kind of bleak complacency while we watch the horrors of a TV documentary. What is missing in this book is the heart of the Cambodian people: People who are troubled survivors, very similar to the survivors of the holocaust, who are still vibrant, alive, and open to hope.
There is so much missing from this book that I hardly know where to begin.
* Little or no mention of the role of the monks in both supporting the people while simultaneously regaling in the corruption. The monasteries teach the young how to emotionally survive, and take in the old women whose lives have been exhausted. The fact that the religious institution has survived itself is a testament that they have the skill to weather any horror. The fact that many too are corrupt is an understandable result.
* A complete misunderstanding of the life of villages and villagers in Cambodia, while the author focuses on the politics and corruption of the cities. This is like describing an elephant by its dung, as more than 80% live in poverty in the countryside.Read more ›
Since my first trip to Cambodia in 2008 I've been an avid reader of books and articles available on Cambodia. The author, Joel Brinkley, returns to Cambodia nearly 30 years after his journalist assignment in 1979 right after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge. Now Mr. Brinkley takes a new look at Cambodia as he delves deeply, through extensive research and countless interviews into current day Cambodia and it's modern history. One of his most stunning quotes for me is that of former US Ambassador to Cambodia, Joseph Mussomeli, which sets the tone for the book. "Be careful, because Cambodia is the most dangerous place you will ever visit. You will fall in love with it , and eventually it will break your heart". Much of the information was not new to me. Corruption, violations of human rights, the subversion of a fledging democracy, cronyism, legal impunity, etc. You don't have to spend much time in Cambodia to learn about these things. But Joel Brinkley really takes the reader into the story more deeply. And if you have any connection to and affection for the people of Cambodia, it does break your heart. This book goes into a lot of detail yet is very readable. It takes the reader through some history and tries to make sense against Cambodia's historical context, why this corrupt system seems to flourish. For many westerners interested in and concerned about the present and future of Cambodia this book can help explain some stubbornly puzzling questions about Cambodia. The subject of this book can be very interesting though also depressing ( with it's title am i not stating the obvious? ).... but in the epilogue the author provides some worthwhile insights about the present and future of Cambodia and from where it's rays of hope may emanate.Read more ›
It is an excellent piece of investigative journalism that you would expect from someone with his credentials at the New York Times and as a professor at Stanford.
While Brinkley uses Cambodia as his palate to tell this saga, he could easily be writing about any dozens of countries from all parts of the globe. The extremes of Pol Pot and the author's personal involvement allows for a better narrative and he makes the most of the process, albeit with an somewhat dogmatic agenda. He seemed to have gotten a great deal of access to many of the prime players in the present situation as well as many of the bureaucrats from the recent past. He includes personalized anecdotal snippets from common folk and bit players as well which gives the story a soul.
His conclusions, however, did not resonate with me quite as strongly as they may with some. In the end, the author's simplistic view of an impoverished population just accepting their lot in a cesspool of corruption and injustice did not ring true for me. For a large part of the world populace, the mere day to day struggle to eat and raise and protect a family are all encompassing. Asking or hoping for a very young, desperately poor, uneducated, traumatized populace to stand up for justice from within Cambodia at this time is a bit too tainted with our own American sensibility and experience.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Overall it was a really good read. Only negative is the lack of citations. While there are a few it feels like there should be more listed at the end of the book. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
Probably the most accurate depiction of state corruption and total disregard for a nations people by inept government and corruptionPublished 26 days ago by Dominique Berhouet
Lots of detailed examples of corruption. The author makes his point in chapter one, the rest is repetition. I would call the book "A part of the modern history". Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rolf Dammann
This book answers a lot of the questions you ask as a traveller to Cambodia but often not what you want to hear!!!Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
A must read for anyone who who wants to educate themselves about what happened to one of the most successful Kingdoms in the world at one point and now, look around to see a lot of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by pamela
Fascinating and well-researched, this modern history is one you won't want to see repeated elsewhere. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Pegleg
Good history but the writer is way to jaded about the potential of activists and opposition leaders to have a positive impact on the future of CambodiaPublished 8 months ago by Anna B
I've been to Cambodia several times. This has helped me understand the culture and I have a new appreciate or heart for the Cambodian people.Published 8 months ago by Nick Kolenda