I read some great things about this book in various reviews,so i decided to give it a go. I was quite prepared to be disappointed, as most things do not live up to their hype. However,my trepidation was soon dispelled, for this remarkable book kept me revited from the moment i picked it up. Francois Bizot writes about his time in captivity in Cambodia without the slightest shred of bitterness and he does not seek to dwell on the lurid details of his ordeal. While he does not minimize the full horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime, he emphasises the beauty of the country that he chose to live in and study, and he also puts a human face to a regime that is synonomous with fear and torture. His relationship and conversations with his chief gaolor Douch are rivitingly conveyed and it is easy to pick up on why he felt a certain affection to this man. It is both shocking and incredibly touching to learn that this man risked his own life to save this one Frenchman before earning his reputation as one of Pol Pot's cheif torturers and murderers.
The second and equally spellbinding part of the book deals with Bizot's time at the French Embassy after the Khmer Rouge had seized control of the capital Phnom Penh. Refugees cramped the embassy's grounds and the dictatorship's headquarters were just across the road. Against the odds, Biztot manages to form a close relationship with the volatile leader of the Khmer Rouge in the city, Nhem. He scrounges,bluffs and charms his way through his ordeal until he and his fellow detainees are forced to flee to Thailand, a journey that is filled with heartache and dispair.
The book concludes with an incredibly moving epilogue, but I won't say anymore. Read this wonderful book and experience the full wealth of inhumanity, compassion, despiar and hope that is contained within it's pages. It is quite simply a modern masterpiece that should not be neglected at any cost.