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The Playground (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Terrence M. McCoy
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $1.99

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Book Description

Selected by the Washington Post as one of 2012's best works of non-fiction. "Showcasing the work of an unknown author of exceptional ability. ... an ire-inspiring account."
We've heard of China's buying sprees. That it's plowed billions of dollars into some of the poorest nations in the world. But the story we don't know is what this money means for the people there. In Cambodia, the cost has been devastating. More than 700,000 people have lost their homes -- others their lives -- while China buys the former killing fields for resorts, hotels, and exclusive residences. And as this country of genocide descends into another era of chaos and violence, some whisper it's the second coming of Pol Pot. 

But one woman has fought back. In this fast-paced narrative, Terrence McCoy follows Vanny Tep's quest to save Cambodia from China's money. Leading a small, fiery group of women, Vanny has sparked a grassroots movement from one of the most daunting slums in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. Her battles are against the Cambodian government, Chinese companies, and a male-dominated society. Powerful and profound, "The Playground" takes us across Cambodia to discover the true meaning of a global Chinatown.

Editorial Reviews Review

Along the coastline of Cambodia, Chinese investors are buying vast tracts of land in secret deals with the Khmer government. To clear the way for development, entire towns are being burned down, plowed over, and redeveloped – the residents often "relocated" to inland swamps. The roughly 750,000 people affected are calling it the second coming of the Khmer Rouge, which tore apart the nation in a genocidal war three decades ago. The Cambodian government and Chinese investors are calling it progress – new luxury resorts promising to bring infrastructure to poverty-stricken areas where none exists. Journalist Terry McCoy explores this quiet land grab, facilitated by what he calls Cambodia’s "kleptocratic elite" and a Chinese government willing to get things done "minus the human rights drama of Western nations." If you’re curious about the ways in which China’s economic power is expanding far beyond national boundaries and reshaping the world we live in, The Playground is a must read. --Benjamin Moebius


"Showcasing the work of an unknown author of exceptional ability. ... An ire-inspiring account of cash-rich Chinese corporations sweeping into Cambodian villages. ... What separates McCoy's book from other tales of authoritarian capitalism run amok is his discovery of a unique form of protest -- led by a most uncommon rebel." 
--The Washington Post

Product Details

  • File Size: 92 KB
  • Print Length: 36 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007X6SF56
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,219 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A POWERFUL STORY ABOUT WOMEN IN CAMBODIA April 28, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is an amazing story by an amazing young journalist. Terry McCoy was my student this year at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism--Terry was here getting his MA degree. He worked on this story for me as his master's thesis. I'm not writing a glowing review just because Terry was my student. I'm doing so because this is a powerful piece of literary journalism. I've taught well over 800 students in my years as a professor; Terry's work ranks in the very tiptop percentile of all of them. There are literary journalists who have been working in the field for years who could not produce a story like this.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An arresting piece of reportage April 29, 2012
By Aayush
Format:Kindle Edition
Terrence McCoy's book is an astonishing tale of resistance in the face of a Chinese onslaught. McCoy sharply captures the grittiness of Vanny's life and handles it with extreme care. One of the most astounding pieces of journalism I've read this year.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So insightful! May 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This book that that not only opened my eyes to contemporary conditions of Cambodia, but also the intense struggle taking place as China attempts to establish itself as the central power in the area. With all we hear about China in the news it's incredible to hear that these global struggles can move so forcefully without raising so much as a blimp on the American news radar.

The length felt appropriate and tightly written, but only four stars! because I now have my nails dug-in and need to find more writing on what's happening! Another reviewer said McCoy wrote this from personal experience - so if you read these, author (and you must, you must) then I hope you follow up here as history continues to move right around us (even if we hear so little).

So! If you have any interest in Cambodia or the global politics taking place in SE Asia then pick up this great little book - and maybe McCoy will write another one!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story That Hits Home May 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having lived in Cambodia for nearly two years, I can attest that the content of this story is anything but superfluous to what you may already know about this country. McCoy's insight is far from speculative about the nature of the issues that plague this developing nation. It was very apparent from the beginning that he took ample time to meet and befriend the many Cambodians he came in contact with. With this, I make mention that the investigative nature of this story and its intentions come across as pure and kindhearted. At the same time, this journalist dares those involved to speak up. The story is heart-wrenching and evokes you to empathize with the plight of the Khmer people. The story of the Kingdom of Cambodia and its contemporary history cannot fit onto 36 pages, yet McCoy manages to give us a good idea of what exists in the present within that span; this is a piece that hits home for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening May 9, 2012
By bcubed
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you're curious about how the growing pains of nation building crosses one woman's struggle to keep her home, please check out this amazing read. Terry's depth is eloquently matched by the sorrow his words emit. A truly moving piece of work that anyone interested in the region or international development must read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars engaging and inspirational May 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
A fast paced and engaging story that will create empathy for its subjects. The author provides just enough detail and emotion for the reader to comprehend the tragedy that is unfolding in Cambodia. Fortunately he also provides some relief and hope by way of a heroine named Vanny. You will applaud the courage of this former pinup model turned activist who is taking on the corrupt Cambodian government in an attempt to gain justice. Beautifully written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling and illuminating April 30, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In The Playground, Terry McCoy creates a moving, infuriating and necessary portrait of a people abandoned. The broad strokes of the story -- powerful oppressors and the struggle of the trampled-upon to preserve their humanity -- shares the familiar dynamic of stories of injustice. But McCoy treks deeper into the details -- finding devils, certainly, but a manner of angels as well. The transparent rationalizations of multi-billion dollar Chinese multinationals, and the willingness of Khmer apparatchiks to regularly employ violence in pursuit of an oligarchy to call their own, is maddening. The indifference of the United States foreign service is embarrassing.

From beneath the overwhelming weight of this brutal regime and the crushing poverty of Cambodia's disastrous recent history (ably and succinctly summarized by McCoy), Vanny Tep emerges. Her brashness barrels through in McCoy's writing, and the ferocious courage of the women she organizes shines from the rubble of ruined lives. Theirs is a hope without reason, a condition at once indomitable and vulnerable. They carry the vitality of human progress, and McCoy brings them out of abstraction and anonymity.

A pregnant woman, living under a tarp in a relocation camp after the government razed her home to make way for foreign developers, tells McCoy, "The government watches us, but they don't see us." Because of McCoy's journalism, we are all witnesses.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating article May 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Terrence's writing reflects an obvious empathy and connection to the people of Cambodia from what must have been a long, challenging Peace Corps term. It seems that he has come to understand this country in a deeper, more profound way than most people in the west will ever know it. I was amazed at his depth of knowledge.

The best line in the article: "When Hun Sen grabbed power he put Cambodia up for sale, and China bought it."

This article was fascinating.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Terri Hilton
1.0 out of 5 stars A very boring book. I am not interested in foreigh lands
A very boring book. I am not interested in foreigh lands. This book is for someone who is intrested in Saigon
Published 1 month ago by Kay Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read.
Great writing leads us on a on the ground excursion into the personal reality experienced by many as their homes and villages are caught up in the economic/political battlefield of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by RDD
3.0 out of 5 stars Light shed on Cambodia
A surprisingly good factual rendition about the plight of Cambodian and the level of corruption in the country disguised as "economic development" which displaces thousand... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Claudia Lothering
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Very we'll written china no worse than the Americans it's all about big money and greed working class gets pissed on again nothing changes
Published 4 months ago by patrick dunne
3.0 out of 5 stars the underside of development
A classic story of the haves and have nots. It read like a news story but did not have the character development I hoped for.
Published 9 months ago by Bobby Gordy
4.0 out of 5 stars Awakening
This certainly educated me to the harsh and almost unbelievable realities in Cambodia. Also showed the courage of the human spirit and survival instincts
Published 12 months ago by mamrn
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I did not realize that this was as short and factual. It was very interesting and I would like to know more
Published 14 months ago by Carol L Rock O'Brien
4.0 out of 5 stars The Playground
Published 19 months ago by Craig M. Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Incite into the real world
In the United States we are born with cultural blinders, an ignorance of the world condition. This short book is a precious attempt to open our thoughts to another culture's... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Cprince
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More About the Author

Terrence M. McCoy is the Gordon Grey Fellow of International Journalism at Columbia University. He contributes frequently to the Atlantic, Washington Monthly, and Salon, and is currently a staff writer for Village Voice Media at the New Times in Miami. He served in the United States Peace Corps in Cambodia between 2009 and 2011.

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