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Pol Pot : anatomy of a nightmare /
Philip Short.
1st American ed.
New York, N.Y. : Henry Holt, 2005.
xv, 537 p. : ill., maps.
More Details
New York, N.Y. : Henry Holt, 2005.
general note
"A John Macrae book."
catalogue key
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Kiriyama Prize, USA, 2005 : Nominated
First Chapter
From Pol Pot:
There were many causes of the egregious tragedy that befell Cambodia in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and many actors amongst whom responsibility must be shared. The over-confidence of the country's new leaders, above all of its principal leader, the man who would become Pol Pot, was but one element among them, and at the time of the Khmer Rouge victory, one that was skillfully dissembled.

Another full year would pass before the reclusive figure who had directed the war on the communist side would emerge from clandestinity and take the name by which his compatriots, and the rest of the world, would remember him.

Even then, he did so reluctantly. For two decades he had operated under multiple aliases: Phouk, Hay, Pol, "87," Grand-Uncle, Elder Brother-to be followed in later years by "99" and Phem. "It is good to change your name," he once told one of his secretaries. "The more often you change your name the better. It confuses the enemy." Then he added, in a phrase which would become a Khmer Rouge mantra: "If you preserve secrecy, half the battle is already won." The architect of the Cambodian nightmare was not a man who liked working out in the open.

Excerpted from Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare by Philip Short
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2006-01-01:
Short, a foreign correspondent for The Times (London) and The Economist, examines the Pol Pot regime and the Cambodian social engineering carried out by the Khmer Rouge. The author successfully demonstrates that the conditions prevailing in Southeast Asia at the time created a climate in which Pol Pot, though a Buddhist, could emerge as a type of small-scale, ferocious Stalin or Hitler. In this biography Short argues that the Pol Pot phenomenon could not have occurred apart from the realities of the wars in Vietnam and the US role in that region. More importantly, the author finds that any state ideology that claims that "the moment you oppose the Communist [ruling] party, you become a traitor" is an ideology capable of creating a Pol Pot-type leader virtually anywhere. Today typical communist parties have been thrown into the dustbins of history, but under the guise of national hegemony or security, other ideologies such as Americanism, Zionism, Arabism, or Islamism could pursue comparable roles in many countries and international politics. The book could be improved by providing additional evidence from other countries, such as Indonesia, Pakistan, and Iraq, to substantiate the author's assuredly correct contention. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. A. Khan University of California, Davis
Appeared in Library Journal on 2004-10-01:
The author of Mao: A Life takes on Cambodia's dictator. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, October 2004
Booklist, December 2004
Library Journal, December 2004
Boston Globe, February 2005
PW Annex Reviews, February 2005
Washington Post, February 2005
Chicago Tribune, March 2005
Los Angeles Times, July 2005
Choice, January 2006
New York Times Book Review, February 2006
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