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Pol Pot Paperback – Illustrated, January 10, 2006
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“A superb, authoritative account of the man and the madness that transformed Cambodia, almost overnight, into hell on earth” ―William Grimes, New York Times
“Readable and capacious...the most thorough-going, most closely argued study of the Khmer Rouge to appear to date.” ―David Chandler, Far Eastern Economic Review
“Vividly drawn . . . Short's text sparkles with shrewdly plausible inferences mortared into a compelling narrative.” ―William T. Vollman, New York Times Book Review
“A well-written narrative possessing both shocking detail and thoughtful analysis. Highly recommended.” ―starred Library Journal
“A superbly wrought, richly nuanced study in evil.” ―starred Kirkus Reviews
“Broaden[s} the inquiry to the point where serious history begins, and serious judgments can be made.” ―Justin Wintle, Financial Times
“Philip Short's Pol Pot is an almanac of extermination that achieves the near impossible feat of translating madness into logic. This biography is a tour de force.” ―David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of W. E. B. DuBois
“An intelligent and compassionate account of the Cambodian nightmare.” ―The Spectator
“Extraordinary and brilliant... This hugely impressive book is more than just the life story of an individual. It is also the biography of a nation... Short has exposed secrets, knitting together a story which it once seemed would never be told. The result is horrific, but it must be read.” ―The Scotsman
“Unerringly broadens the enquiry to the point where serious history begins and serious judgments can be made.” ―Financial Times
“A comprehensive and eloquent biography...This is a long, dark and necessary book..” ―Literary Review, London
“Short is a gifted biographer who knows his communists. [His account] is the most definitive yet.” ―Time [Asian edition]
“Short's most valuable contribution is to bring clear thinking to the question of blame... He is brisk about the cynical policy of Vietnam... and also indicts the Chinese, who have largely escaped censure for their complicity with the Khmer Rouge.” ―Sunday Times, London
“A brilliantly detailed account and a salutary one.” ―Sunday Herald, Glasgow
About the Author
Philip Short has been a foreign correspondent for The Times (London), The Economist, and the BBC in Uganda, Moscow, China, and Washington, D.C. He is the author of the definitive biography of Mao Tse-tung, and lived in China and Cambodia in the 1970s and early 1980s, where he has returned regularly ever since. He now lives in southern France.
- Publisher : Henry Holt; First Edition Thus (January 10, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 576 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0805080066
- ISBN-13 : 978-0805080063
- Item Weight : 1.7 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 1.44 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #180,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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As a student in Paris, he was not the most intelligent, or even the most ideologically driven among expat Cambodian students. But as he entered political life, he became a more fervent advocate of complete and total social engineering. Small believes that Pol Pot was just as influenced by the more bloody aspects of the French Revolution as by Marx, Lenin, or Mao.
When he gained power in 1975, he emptied Cambodia’s cities, and started year zero, an attempt to create a new kind of person who was not a person at all; an entity that was devoted to the state. This was a pure totalitarian vision. Pol Pot only cared for this vision; human life meant nothing alongside of this ideal. More than a million Cambodians died in the process.
Short make some interesting assertions. One is that America and China, new allies, supported the Khmer Rouge against the trio’s common enemy, Vietnam. In that case, our government is an accessory to genocide.
Short also makes a great many negative generalizations about Cambodians (if he wrote such things about African-Americans, they would be deemed racist). It is disturbing to read that Cambodians are lazy, or prone to extreme violence despite their outward smiles and politeness. He also believes that the kind of Buddhism practiced in Cambodia, with its world denying theology, was one of the elements that molded the Khmer Rouge nihilistic joyride.
Perfect and magic description of the old Kampuchea, cultural and geographically speaking. Profound insight of Saloth Sar, his childhood, youth years and his final way to total power.
It's great to know of the other guys of Angkar too - Kieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Son Sen, Hou Yuon - that were with him in France, still young idealist men, just dreaming of revolution and changing the world.
Very revealing not only about the deep relations with China and North Korea, but the surprising nexus with Romania, Albania, Yugoslavia and the Non-Aligned World. Very documenting about the strange but strong Buddhist nature of the peculiar Khmer communism and - above all - the early (and fateful) influence of french revolutionaries like Robespierre and Saint-Just in the radical thought of the young leading cadres of the future Democratic Kampuchea.
And very accurate about the dark and final influence of Stalin, when the paranoia and the purges began to rot his regime from within.
I wanted to know about him, not the atrocities that we all know. I wanted to find the human being, and I found him... And even felt sorry for his shameful demise; purged by his own men, old, ill and finally cremated in a pile of garbage.
Pol Pot was a man so complicated that no book, no friend, no relative could describe him enough clearly. And this book demonstrates that.
Oh, by the way... The author doesn't put Norodom Sihanouk in good light, portraying him as he actually is: an oportunist, two-faced crook that was the first and foremost killer of democracy in his country and clearly guilty of paving the way first for the far-right regime of Lon Nol and then, the far-left regime of Pol Pot.
What you're waiting? Buy it.