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The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79 Paperback – October 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0300096491 ISBN-10: 0300096496 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: Yale Nota Bene
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300096496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300096491
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,513,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"I first visited Cambodia in 1975," Ben Kiernan writes. "None of the Cambodians I knew then survived the next four years." In The Pol Pot Regime, Kiernan presents the first definitive account of the four-year reign of terror known as "Democratic Kampuchea." Working very closely with Cambodian sources, including interviews with hundreds of survivors and the archived "confessions" extracted by the Khmer Rouge from political prisoners just before their execution, Kiernan depicts the horrific nature of Pol Pot and his thugs with chilling specificity, and his historical analysis makes a valuable contribution to understanding how they were able to come to power in the wake of the Vietnam War. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Pol Pot, the paramount leader of Democratic Kampuchea, trumps Hitler, Stalin, and Mao as the most bloodthirsty ruler of modern history. In fewer than four years, Pol Pot's regime caused the death of 1.7 million people in Cambodia, one-fifth of the population. Using hundreds of interviews with survivors, Kiernan, the leading authority on modern Cambodia, meticulously examines Pol Pot's killing machine and clears up many misconceptions found in earlier studies. In chilling detail, he shows that Pol Pot, obsessed with fantasies of ethnic purity and national grandeur, tried to exterminate the Cham, Vietnamese, Thai, and Lao minorities in his country. Finally, internal revolt supported by Vietnam caused the regime's collapse. An important book for students of genocide as well as scholars of Southeast Asia.?Steven I. Levine, Boulder Run Research, Hillsborough, N.C.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Honestly, I would have preferred no to buy it... But whatever, I bought it.
unterstruktur
Kiernan does an excellent and indepth job of studying the stucture of the DPK purges and why they lead to the ultimate collapse of the Pol Pot regime.
Matthew P. Arsenault
A defect of this book, however, is that Kiernan seems to be writing primarily for his fellow Cambodia specialists, not for a general audience.
R. Albin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This much heralded history by the Australian historian Kiernan has turned out to be a big disappointment. Despite his access to enormous amounts of information, he shows no talent for organizing the material, nor being able to discern what is important from what is trivial. His prose style is extremely dull. And as many reviewers have pointed out (e.g. New York Review of Books, Washington Post) his explanation of the Khmer Rouge (misnamed the Pol Pot regime) as being primarily motivated by racism, doesn't hold water. The overwhelming majority of the Khmer Rouge victims -- some of whom included many of my relatives -- were from the ethnic Khmer majority, not from Cambodia's ethnic minorities. Kiernan, as a former supporter of Pol Pot (until 1978) who is now a supporter of the current Hun Sen regime in Cambodia, seems determined to protect what he considers the "good" idea of communism from the bad reputation of Pol Pot. As an Australian educated Cambodian, who has studied the history of communism, I find Kiernan's perspective quite bizarre, not to say morally repugnant. A far better written and more reliable account of the topic is Elizabeth Becker's When The War Was Over. The most reliable academic history is David Chandler's Tragedy of Cambodian History and the relevant sections of his briefer History of Cambodia.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Matthew P. Arsenault on September 1, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without argument, Ben Kiernan is one of the the top Cambodia scholars working on the subject today. He has been in and out of Cambodia since the 1970's, including a trip shorty after the fall of the DPK in 1980. In 1995, Khmer Rouge forces even accused Kiernan of being a "war criminal," beaming the macbre message from guerrilla radio stations along the Thai border.

The Pol Pot Regime, a follow up to Kiernan's How Pol Pot Came to Power, begins with the DPK takeover following the fall of the Lon Nol government. He then provides a nearly 500 page systematic study of the Pol Pot regime.

Kiernan breaks the study down into three parts. The first segment discusses the very early days of the DPK and their paranoid attempt to cling to their hard-won power by emptying the cities, creating agrarian communes and exterminating the human remenants of the Lon Nol era, 1970-75.

Kiernan labels this section, "Wiping the Slate Clean." Indeed, that is exactly what the Khmer Rouge intended to do, wipe the 'slate,' Cambodia, clean- in order to usher in a new era, even going so far as to declare 1975 Year Zero.

Following "Wiping the Slate Clean," Kiernan begins to discuss the evolution and implementation of Khmer Rouge policies. It seems as though the ultimate goal of these radical Marxists was to create an agrarian utopia regardles of cost, even at the risk of turning the nation into one giant charnel house. Following the forced exodus of all major towns and cities, Cambodians were forced into the countryside to grow rice which the DPK felt would lead to the re-emegence of the great Khmer power of the past. The result was starvation and disease on a scale never before seen.

Although production was quite high, the Khmer people were placed on starvation rations.
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful By "addamski" on January 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
The three stars are awarded for the detailed content of the book- it's only good point. The style is very academic, lacking life and fails to captivate. Despite the book being named after him, Pol Pot is hardly mentioned in it's 465 pages. Furthermore the book isn't self contained- if you want to know how Pol Pot came to power, you'll have to read another of Kiernans books. Here he paints an incomplete picture, merely informing us of US governments prominent role (surprise, surprise..), whereby Nixon had 150,000 civilians killed in illegal bombings, which were capitalised on by the Khmer Rouge to get mass support. The book also basically ignores what happened after Pol Pots fall, thus leaving it seemingly incomplete. Also, you'll need to know about the Vietnam war and Mao's China, as Kiernan doesn't bother to briefly explain either, despite them being pivotal in this context.
What the book does excel at is it's main focus- the role of racism in Pol Pots exceedingly bizarre, deranged and horrific strain of communism, which consisted of an intense xenophobia, especially focused against other communist countries. Still, this doesn't make up for the stale writing style. Overall, this book is not for the casual reader, and is more suited to those who know a fair amount about Cambodia in this era.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This much heralded history by the Australian historian Kiernan has turned out to be a big disappointment. Despite his access to enormous amounts of information, he shows no talent for organizing the material, nor being able to discern what is important from what is trivial. His prose style is extremely dull. And as many reviewers have pointed out (e.g. New York Review of Books, Washington Post) his explanation of the Khmer Rouge (misnamed the Pol Pot regime) as being primarily motivated by racism, doesn't hold water. The overwhelming majority of the Khmer Rouge victims -- some of whom included many of my relatives -- were from the ethnic Khmer majority, not from Cambodia's ethnic minorities. Kiernan, as a former supporter of Pol Pot (until 1978) who is now a supporter of the current Hun Sen regime in Cambodia, seems determined to protect what he considers the "good" idea of communism from the bad reputation of Pol Pot. As an Australian educated Cambodian, who has studied the history of communism, I find Kiernan's perspective quite bizarre, not to say morally repugnant. A far better written and more reliable account of the topic is Elizabeth Becker's When The War Was Over. The most reliable academic history is David Chandler's Tragedy of Cambodian History and the relevant sections of his briefer History of Cambodia.
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