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The definitive biography on Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge
on 15 July 2005
Founded during the 1950s, the Khmer Rouge became infamous for their ruthless guerrilla fight against the Lon Nol regime and their murder of about two million people during their 1975-79 rule. Forced out of power in 1979 by the Vietnamese invasion the Khmer Rouge survived the 1980s with the help of Thailand and China. Following the Paris Agreement in 1991, it began to fade and following the death of Pol Pot in 1998 it practically ceased to exist.
This is what Philip Short's biography of Pol Pot is about. It is of course significantly more detailed than the above. Short follows Pol Pot from birth through school to Paris where the Khmer Rouge ideology was founded. And he is right, the similarities with the French Revolution and various aspects of Stalinism are indeed striking. The formation of the Khmer Rouge and their take-over of the country are again explained in detail, so is the gruesome 1975-79 period. When I read the book I occasionally felt that the structure of Cambodian society may have made it easier for the Khmer Rouge to gain power and hang on to it. The Khmer Rouge resistance period of the 1980s is well covered; so are the factors leading up to Pol Pot's arrest in 1997 and his end in 1998.
There are plenty of books on Pol Pot and various aspects of the Khmer Rouge rule. This should be one of the best.