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

3.9 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Length: 42 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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: 141 KB
  • Print Length: 42 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: The Atavist (April 26, 2012)
  • Publication Date: April 26, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007Y6WYMU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,437 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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By Robert C. ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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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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In the short story, "The Accidental Terrorist," the narrative begins in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Amusing enough the author, Adam Piore, describes the occupants of this city to be largely `Vietnamese' without previously establishing where the boundaries lie. It was not until the end of chapter one that the audience realizes that Phnom Penh is a part of Cambodia.

Furthermore, it was not until chapter two that Piore formally introduces the main character, Yasith Chhun. In Literary Journalism, this style of narrative is done to draw in the reader (lecture). Usually it would make the reader curious about the remainder of the story. Chhun is introduced as a middle aged Cambodian-American who lives in Long Beach. Towards the beginning, I felt his character to be someone relatable to due to location and ethnic background. However as the story progress, I find myself less and less sympathetic to his cause.

My primary complaint is that the revolution has taken place over decades and Chhun could have felt these sentiments and acted towards them sooner. As a Vietnamese-American, born in America, I know that I feel constant feelings of hatred towards the communist government oppressing my people. I have know this for as long as I remember and I know the same anger survives with my parents, who were forced to leave their homeland. Every year on April 30th since 1975, our people have mourned for the loss of our country. I do not understand how this man, Yasith Chhun, suddenly decided to act on impulse and stupidity.

I do not think killing one person would help a corrupted government. Simply because another corrupted man in that government will fill his place. I believe in spreading awareness and planned rational action. It is important in Literary Journalism to have a relatable character, and my critique for this story is that I simply cannot relate or feel sympathetic towards Chhun (lecture).
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