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The Tragedy of Cambodian History: Politics, War, and Revolution Since 1945 [Paperback]

David P. Chandler

Price: 26.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012
The political history of Cambodia between 1945 and 1979, which culminated in the devastating revolutionary excesses of the Pol Pot regime, is one of unrest and misery. This book by David P. Chandler is the first to give a full account of this tumultuous period. Drawing on his experience as a foreign service officer in Phnom Penh, on interviews, and on archival material. Chandler considers why the revolution happened and how it was related to Cambodia's earlier history and to other events in Southeast Asia. He describes Cambodia's brief spell of independence from Japan after the end of World War II; the long and complicated rule of Norodom Sihanouk, during which the Vietnam War gradually spilled over Cambodia's borders; the bloodless coup of 1970 that deposed Sihanouk and put in power the feeble, pro-American government of Lon Nol; and the revolution in 1975 that ushered in the radical changes and horrors of Pol Pot's Communist regime. Chandler discusses how Pol Pot and his colleagues evacuated Cambodia's cities and towns, transformed its seven million people into an unpaid labor force, tortured and killed party members when agricultural quotas were unmet, and were finally overthrown in the course of a Vietnamese military invasion in 1979. His book is a penetrating and poignant analysis of this fierce revolutionary period and the events of the previous quarter-century that made it possible.

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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Analysis 19 Jun 2006
By beckra_giddon - Published on Amazon.com
Chandler, the most eminent scholar of Cambodia, has provide an easy to follow and insightful account of Cambodia's recent history. Whilst perhaps not designed for those with no base knowledge in Cambodian history, a read of the relevant section of a general Asian history book will provide all the background knowledge necessary. The Tragedy of Cambodian History traces not only the significant events since 1945 but also, through doing so, traces the lives of people such as Nuon Chea who were to become instrumental in the disastrous events from April 17, 1975. I would recommend this to be read before either of Kiernan's major works on the topic as they provide more facts which new readers are liable to get bogged down in.

Perfect for those who feel the need to understand one of the worst cases of man's inhumanity to man.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile, but misleading 10 Nov 2011
By Michael Stout - Published on Amazon.com
Time hasn't really done this book many favors. It concentrates heavily on Sihanouk and his activities after World War II and the events leading up to the Khmer Rouge's power. Lon Nol seems to be given a fair shake, but no doubt at the time this book was written, information about what happened during the Khmer Rouge period must have been very scarce, as the facts here are hard to come by. The ripples of the Khmer Rouge had not completely played out by the time it was published either, as Pol Pot was still living.

For details of Sihanouk's personality and motivations, this is a pretty decent read. If you are looking for a serious examination of the Khmer Rouge period or beyond, you're going to be disappointed with this one.
6 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very hard to follow and understand. Disappointing 5 April 2000
By Jess - Published on Amazon.com
I had to read "the tradedy of cambodian history" by David Chandler for a history course at my university. The class focuses on genocide in the 20th century so I was very interested in Chandler's book because I knew little about the Cambodian Genocide by Pol Pot. So maybe it was because I went in with high expectations that made me feel disappointed afterwards. I expected this book to not so much be "easy" to read, but I thought I would at least be able to follow along with the main points. This is where I first found fault. Chandler uses SO many names and dates that really seem irrelevant in the scheme of the book. It made it very distracting because I was unsure which names and dates were actually of importance. Usually authors use names and dates to emphasize a point or event. Chandler just uses them all the time for every single, tiny event. I understand history is made up of names and dates, but the larger picture of history is better to gain than the names and dates. So I was extremely distracted and that was the first thing that made it hard to follow. The second reason I got lost easily was because Chandler switches back and forth between names. For example, Pol Pot was not Pol Pot's real name. So Chandler sometimes refers to Pol Pot by that name, or by his real name. He constantly switches back and forth with no real pattern. For a long time I could not figure out who this person was that Chandler kept talking about every now and then. Finally I figured out that it was Pol Pot's other name. Despite these negative aspects, I did appreciate the last chapter which gives eyewitness accounts of the Cambodian Genocide. It makes the entire book seem a little more personal and real. However, Chandler does not really delve deeply into the human aspects of emotions and feelings about the genocide. He reports the eyewitnesses' accounts but does not add any personal information. So again I really did not find myself too attached to these people. I empathized with them, but their accounts did not stand out as much as some Holocaust ones do. Overall I think if people are interested in just getting a basic overview of Cambodian history, this would not be the book for them. I am sure this is a wonderful book for people like professors and scholars on Cambodia, just not for average, or even above-average readers/students. Out of five stars I would have to give it a 1.8 if I was going on a strict point scale.
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