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The Killing Fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot

"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.

Brother Number One:
A Political Biography of Pol Pot

by David P. Chandler
Hardcover (August 1992)

Paperback (1999)

In the tragic recent history of Cambodia - a past scarred by a long occupation by Vietnamese forces and by the preceding three-year reign of terror by the brutal Khmer Rouge - no figure looms larger or more ominously than that of Pol Pot.   As secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) since 1962 and as prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea (DK), he has been widely blamed for trying to destroy Cambodian society.    By implementing policies whose effects were genocidal, he oversaw the deaths of more than one million of his nation's people.   The political career of Saloth Sar (b. 1928), better known by his nom de guerre Pol Pot, forms a critical but largely inaccessible portion of twentieth-century Cambodian history.   What we know about his life is sketchy: a comfortable childhood, three years of study in France, and a short career as a schoolteacher preceded several years - spent mostly in hiding - as a guerrilla and the commander of the victorious army in Cambodia's civil war.    His career reached a climax when he and his associates, coming to power, attempted to transform their country along lines more radical than any attempted by a modern regime.  Driven into hiding in 1979 by invading Vietnamese forces, Pol Pot maintained his leadership of a Khmer Rouge guerrilla army in exile, remaining a power and a threat.   Even now, as the Khmer Rouge take their controversial place in the new coalition government, Pol Pot likely continues to be a hidden force.   In this political biography, David P. Chandler throws light on the shadowy figure of Pol Pot. Basing his study on interviews and on a wide range of sources in English, Cambodian, and French, the author illuminates the ideas and behavior of this enigmatic man and his entourage against the background of post-World War II events, providing a key to   understanding this horrific, pivotal period of Cambodian history.

Dith Pran, the Cambodian photojournalist portrayed by Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields, compiled this collection of eyewitness accounts to the genocide perpetrated by Pol Pot's regime from 1975 to 1979.   All of the survivors who recount their stories here were children when the Khmer Rouge took power, and the horrific images from a time when an estimated third of the Cambodian population died of disease, starvation, and execution remain fixed in their minds to this day.  With the Khmer Rouge, the genocidal Communist political group that wreaked havoc in Cambodia in the early 1970s, again poised to overtake Cambodia, Children is a timely reminder of the country's recent bloody past.   More than two dozen accounts of the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror have been compiled by Dith Pran, whose own account of surviving Khmer Rouge "reeducation" and escaping to Thailand became the movie The Killing Fields. Children played a key role in Cambodia's genocidal endgame.    They were to be the first generation of the "new" Cambodia and were subject to physical labor, violence, and forced separation from family to underscore the point.   Most disturbing is the similarity of the accounts.   The brutality is almost mesmerizing, demonstrating the universally horrid existence of those children's lives.
Ted Leventhal  Copyright© 1997, American Library Association. All rights reserved

The 1970-75 war in Cambodia directly involved the United States, contributed to the downfall of an American president, led to the "killing fields," and explains much of what has since happened in Cambodia.   Yet, because U.S. involvement in that part of Southeast Asia was largely clandestine, the American people know little about it, regarding the fighting in Cambodia as a small sideshow to the Vietnam War.   In fact, it was a full-scale war in which a small nation, sucked into the vortex of Cold War  geopolitics, was propelled into one of history's bloodiest, most brutal periods.   This is the first book to deal exclusively with the military aspects of the Cambodian War.

Cambodia 1975-1978: Rendezvous With Death
by Karl D. Jackson
 Paperback (1992)

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