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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Killing Fields, 28 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Killing Fields (Pan original) (Paperback)
Always wanted to read this, a great book, it makes you realise how evil man can become without even realising it especially when an ideoligally is involved. It also gives you a good view of the political positions major countries were taking up at that time
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener for me, 21 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Killing Fields (Pan original) (Paperback)
I have just watched the dvd of this and was so pleased I had read the book first. It goes into a lot more detail than the film and is a lot more evocative.
I was deeply moved by the relationship between the two main characters and horrified by the Khmer Rouge. I believe this book should be read by more people, perhaps students, it was a time that was brushed under the carpet. I was in my early twenties when this happened and that era was really unaware of what was happening around the world.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Auto-genocide..., 18 May 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Killing Fields (Pan original) (Paperback)
There have been numerous genocides throughout history; several have occurred in the 20th Century: the Jewish, Armenian, Rwandan ones immediately come to mind. What occurred in Cambodia in the second half of the `70's were devastating mass killings of the Cambodian people, but this event does not easily fit into the normal pattern of genocide, that is, the massive killing of one ethnic group by another. Rather, it was initially based on education level, and then seemed to metastasize into an orgy of killing for killing's sake. The rather clunky compound word that is the subject title was invented in an attempt to give a short-hand description to this unique event, certainly for the 20th Century.

While other genocides have been more carefully documented and examined, the one in Cambodia has been largely ignored. No doubt the fact that both the United States and China continued to recognize the Khmer Rouge as the "legitimate government" of Cambodia, long after irrefutable evidence of this genocide was available, is part of the reason. Around two million people, one third of Cambodia's population, died during the late `70's. And I still recall the remark of a friend who worked in the Peace Corps in Thailand during the `60's, and who visited Cambodia, pre-war: "I found the Cambodians the gentlest people on earth." The how and the why of this enormous tragedy have never been fully answered.

Hudson's book takes the form of a "docudrama"; a re-creation of events based on the known facts. He draws on one of the few other excellent sources then available: William Shawcross, author of Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, as well as articles published by one of the principal characters, the New York Times journalist, Sydney Schanberg. Like a few other honest journalists, Neil Sheehan, and others, Schanberg did not buy the "party line" peddled by the US military about the continued success of efforts in Cambodia. This book's principal theme is his relationship with his Cambodian "stringer," Dith Pran. Pran once saved Schanberg's life, yet Schanberg is forced to abandon Pran at the French Embassy. Schanberg escapes to the United States, but it haunted by the fate of Pran, who endures life under the murderous Khmer Rouge for five years.

As to the all-important question of why this occurred, and it definitely comes across as forced, but Hudson places the following explanation in the mouth of Schanberg, when he is at a diplomatic party discussing the British interventions in China of the previous century (the so-called Opium Wars): "The Chinese forgave you. What about the Khmer Rouge? Five years of saturation bombing. Thousands of gallons of napalm. Tens of thousands of them blown up or incinerated. No means of retaliation; nothing to turn their fury on except their own people. Do you think they're going to forget and forgive?" And I concur. The essence of the matter was the relentless B-52 bombing campaigns against a largely illiterate peasant mass, led by a few Parisian-educated young student "intellectuals" who were determined to re-do the world, totally evacuating Phnom Penh, and declaring the time to be "Year Zero."
In 1989 the population of Phnom Penh was 50,000. By 1994, it was 1.4 million, as people fled the continued fighting in the countryside. That was the year I visited the country. I was the only one, for over a two hour period, at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison, now a museum dedicated to the Cambodian holocaust. Later, I visited the glass "stupa" of skulls at Choeung Ek; again the only one there.

It takes a virtually impossible act of imagination to envision what it was like to live through this era. Hudson's attempt is an important and reasonable one, though it verges towards what would make a good movie, which it ultimately was The Killing Fields. 4-stars.

(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on April 29, 2011)
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Killing Fields (Pan original), 23 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Killing Fields (Pan original) (Paperback)
No comment as haven't read it yet so cannot say. Cannot think of ten more words or even four !
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The Killing Fields (Pan original)
The Killing Fields (Pan original) by Christopher Hudson (Paperback - 9 Nov 1984)
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