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The Accidental Terrorist: A California Accountant's Coup d'Etat (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Adam Piore , The Atavist
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $1.99

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Book Description

Yasith Chhun was just a 42-year-old accountant living a comfortable life in California. Then he tried to overthrow the Cambodian government from his humble office in Long Beach. Inspired by films like Braveheart, Chhun planned "Operation Volcano," a scheme replete with espionage, jungle guerrillas, and East German rocket launchers. Could Chhun's quixotic, incredibly risky and potentially bloody coup possibly succeed? And what happens to a man when he leaves the American immigrant dream behind and turns from upstanding citizen into Colonel Kurtz? Former Newsweek editor Adam Piore tells the story.

Editorial Reviews Review

Meet Yasith Chhun, the least likely of revolutionaries. As a young man, he was captured, enslaved, and trained by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, whose thugs killed his father. After escaping to the United States in the early 1980s and becoming a successful accountant (and polygamist) in Southern California, Chhun grew "doughy"--physically and, it seems, emotionally. He became a slight, soft man who wore thick glasses above his chubby cheeks. Then, at the age of 42, something clicked: Chhun decided his former countrymen deserved the freedom he had achieved. When diplomacy and protests failed, he turned to weaponry and force. Like a character out of a Graham Greene novel, the accountant became the "Thumb," the enigmatic head of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, whose guerillas Chhun recruited to join in his attempted coup of the Cambodian government. As told by former Newsweek correspondent Adam Piore, Chhun's story is that of a willful man haunted by survivor's guilt and by "the demons of his past." He is idealistic, headstrong, charismatic—and naïve. In 2000, dozens of Chhun's armed Freedom Fighters attacked the Ministry of Defense building and military police headquarters. Chhun, stationed at a secret base near the Thai border, waited to learn whether his small band of fighters had overthrown the government, which he hoped would soon need a new leader--himself. -–Neal Thompson

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Product Details

  • File Size: 129 KB
  • Print Length: 42 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: The Atavist (April 26, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007Y6WYMU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,082 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rebel With or Without a Cause? May 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In "The Accidental Terrorist," Adam Piore captivates the attention of the audience in the first chapter with a very specific account of an inexplicable and mysterious grenade attack. Piore sets up a vivid, peaceful scene in the city of Phnom Penhn in Cambodia on the evening of February 12, 1999 to contrast the actual state of upheaval and political discontent. He reveals a myriad of attacks--all building up on one another in intensity and violence--to expose the obscure revolutionary group behind these acts of rebellion: the Cambodian Freedom Fighters. Piore specifically brings to light the group leader,Yasith Chhun, the man who struggled to launch a revolution in Cambodia from his modest accounting office thousands of miles away in Long Beach, California.

I really enjoyed the way in which Piore zooms in on the drama of the Cambodian grenade attacks to get the reader into the political context, but then offers a background history on the personal life of Chhun. The childhood accounts of Chhun, particularly in Chapter 4, concerning the genocide, upheavals, youth camp, and the death of his father in the hands of Pol Pot's army are alarming and thought provoking. However, Piore also paints Chhun as a man entirely consumed with an extremist fervor motivated by freedom in America to single-handedly right the wrongs of his native country. The way in which Chhun draws inspiration primarily from American movies and views himself as a Moses-like savior figure bring to question the authenticity behind his obsessive idealism.
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Chhun Yasith left Cambodia in the early 1980s after seeing his father killed, his mother seriously wounded and he himself forced to become a guerrilla fighter. He was able to leave during the chaos surrounding the Vietnamese invasion that deposed the Khmer Rouge. He emigrated to the United States in 1982, worked at a number of menial jobs, and earned a GED and eventually became a tax accountant in Long Beach, California. In 1988, he joined the Sam Rainsy Party in Cambodia but returned to the United States, believing non-violent opposition was ineffective.

In 1998, he established the Cambodian Freedom Fighters and served as its President. Chhun's goal was to depose Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who had defected to Vietnam in the 1970s and returned with the Vietnamese troops in 1979. Chhun's group carried out a number of small attacks and on November 24, 2000 rebels armed with rockets and grenades attacked government buildings in Phnom Penh. Several people were killed or injured. Chhun was tried in absentia by a Phnom Penh court, which found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison. On April 17, 2008, Chhun was convicted in a U.S. court of masterminding the failed coup attempt in 2000. He was sentenced in Los Angeles on June 22nd 2010 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The preceding bare bone account of Chhun's activities are fleshed out in clear and fascinating detail in Adam Piore's well written article. For example, during 1999 and 2000, Chhun raised money among Cambodian immigrants, often dressed in military fatigues and tunic: "We have plenty of freedom here. Butterflies should not forget where they come from. Wake up, Cambodian-Americans.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Typical April 15, 2014
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A typical story for the genre. While I like some stories by some authors, this one wasn't appealing enough to want read another by this author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read January 10, 2014
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This is a well written story with a twist. Characters are true to life, and the he plot kept me interested.
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3.0 out of 5 stars No Big Deal July 9, 2013
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I read the book and did not think it was any big deal. Probably it would have been an interesting article in a magazine but it did not merit "book" status.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An important account of an unimportant accountant May 23, 2012
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The story of Yasith Chhun's ill-fated attempt at insurrection in his motherland has needed this kind of treatment for a long time. Chhun was caught up in strange times for Cambodia and the US alike, and he paid a heavy toll to the American judicial system. Piore's detailed recounting of how this all went down should be read by anyone who wonders at the ethereal quality of justice in the age of terror.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Yarn May 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I've been a fan of Adam Piore's work for years and this single doesn't disappoint. Piore's eye for drama and his knowledge of the subject shine through in this piece. Highly recommended!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Fully Intrigued by this Terrorist May 8, 2012
By CWhelan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When juxtaposing my reading of The Accidental Terrorist with The Instigators by David Wolman, I was less satisfied with the former. Initially, when reading The Accidental Terrorist, I nearly believed that I was tired and thus having a difficult time focusing on the piece. Ultimately, I realized that my lack of focus was more significantly due to a general indifference to the story. Though I did feel that there was some interesting material in Piore's story, what I felt was the writer's own disconnect with his subject overall hindered my interest in the piece. In the several instances in which Piore described his subject as someone with a certain "calling" to liberate the Cambodian people, a calling often compared to that experienced by Moses, I felt as if he was either mocking his subject, or he was just critical of his subject's motives. While it is unrealistic to expect every writer's subject to be captivating and likable, I could not help but feel as if Piore could have painted his subject in a better light. Perhaps this was due to the limitations of his reporting, and also could have been a result of the writer having a confusing subject or one that was simply difficult to relate to. Ultimately, I admit that I generally enjoy journalistic narratives in which, as a reader, I can sense the writer's understanding of his or her subject (whether or not that subject is necessarily likable), and I did not feel as though Piore possessed or was simply able to achieve a full connection with his subject.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It was great, used it to write a college term paper!
Published 3 months ago by James Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars An Important Case Study
I spent a little more than a year in Phnom Penh at The Cambodia Daily (prior to Adam Piore's arrival, so I don't know him personally), so I was intrigued by this piece. Read more
Published on May 31, 2012 by Stew Magnuson
3.0 out of 5 stars The Accidental Terrorist - Good but not enough character
I will start by saying that this piece was an interesting read - the subject matter itself is something worthy of exploration. Read more
Published on May 7, 2012 by E. W. Ross
3.0 out of 5 stars LJ Review - The Accidental Terrorist
Adam Piore's piece titled The Instigators tells the story about an accountant turned extreme revolutionist for the country of Cambodia. Read more
Published on May 7, 2012 by Alex Chan
4.0 out of 5 stars How far a man would go to escape boredom
The "Accidental Terrorist" is a short story that chronicles a tax accountant's madness with his misguided ambition to overthrow the Cambodian government. Read more
Published on May 7, 2012 by Johnny Au Yeung
5.0 out of 5 stars Cambodian pressures
Yasith Chhun, a Cambodian refugee living in California, lives the life of the "American dream" and successfully makes a life for himself outside of refugee camps. Read more
Published on May 7, 2012 by Amory Z
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Confusion
Adam Piore's reconstruction blew me away. The "Accidental Terrorist" had so much minute detail, and really came to life on the page. Read more
Published on May 7, 2012 by Tiffany Yen
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