Between 1970 and 1975 Jon Swain, the English journalist portrayed in David Puttnam's film, The Killing Fields, lived in the lands of the Mekong river. This is his account of those years, and the way in which the tumultuous events affected his perceptions of life and death as Europe never could. He also describes the beauty of the Mekong landscape - the villages along its banks, surrounded by mangoes, bananas and coconuts, and the exquisite women, the odours of opium, and the region's other face - that of violence and corruption.
Jon Swain was born in London and spent his early years in West Bengal and at school in England. He began his career in journalism as a teenager, working in the English provinces. After a brief stint in the French Foreign Legion, his desire to be a foreign correspondent drove him first to Paris and then, in early 1970, to Indo-China to cover the Vietnam war. He stayed until 1975, working first for Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, and then as a freelance reporter and photographer, principally for The Sunday Times, BBC, Economist and Daily Mail before he joined the staff of The Sunday Times.
Jon was the only British journalist in Phnom Penh when it fell to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975. His coverage of these events and their horrific aftermath won him the first of his many awards, the British Press Awards Journalist of the Year. They featured in the Oscar-winning film, The Killing Fields, and form the backdrop to River of Time, his bestselling memoir.
Jon was on the staff of The Sunday Times for 35 years. His career has taken him to most of the world's wars and disasters. His reporting reflects wide experience in Asia, Africa - where he was kidnapped for three months - and the Middle East.