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on 2 May 2009
This book is clearly a labour of love so far as the author is concerned. The research, the time, the emotion invested in this project is evident on every page. The quantity of interviews conducted by the author, and the assiduousness of his search for truth is most admirable. Mr. Kiernan details every discoverable event (many discovered by himself) that happened in Cambodia during this period and tells us about the actions and fate of all the major (and many of the minor) players in the tragedy. The weakness of the book is in precisely this exhaustiveness: the author insists on including every account, beyond what is necessary to portray a given phenomenon, and adds intimidatingly abundant footnotes. This makes it difficult for the non-expert reader to "see the wood for the trees". As such this book might perhaps alienate the reader looking for an overview, but would certainly enchant the reader looking for depth and detail.
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on 16 July 1999
This much heralded history by the Australian historian Kiernan has turned out to be a big disappointment. Despite his access to enormous amounts of information, he shows no talent for organizing the material, nor being able to discern what is important from what is trivial. His prose style is extremely dull. And as many reviewers have pointed out (e.g. New York Review of Books, Washington Post) his explanation of the Khmer Rouge (misnamed the Pol Pot regime) as being primarily motivated by racism, doesn't hold water. The overwhelming majority of the Khmer Rouge victims -- some of whom included many of my relatives -- were from the ethnic Khmer majority, not from Cambodia's ethnic minorities. Kiernan, as a former supporter of Pol Pot (until 1978) who is now a supporter of the current Hun Sen regime in Cambodia, seems determined to protect what he considers the "good" idea of communism from the bad reputation of Pol Pot. As an Australian educated Cambodian, who has studied the history of communism, I find Kiernan's perspective quite bizarre, not to say morally repugnant. A far better written and more reliable account of the topic is Elizabeth Becker's When The War Was Over. The most reliable academic history is David Chandler's Tragedy of Cambodian History and the relevant sections of his briefer History of Cambodia.
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thank you
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on 5 January 2015
greAT
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on 13 August 1998
As one who has lived through the Khmer Rouge years, I find this work indispensable in trying to make sense of the actual working of the Khmer Rouge during those years. Although a bit dense for the average reader, I believe it is worth the extra time to sift through the voluminous materials presented in the book.
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on 16 July 1999
This much heralded history by the Australian historian Kiernan has turned out to be a big disappointment. Despite his access to enormous amounts of information, he shows no talent for organizing the material, nor being able to discern what is important from what is trivial. His prose style is extremely dull. And as many reviewers have pointed out (e.g. New York Review of Books, Washington Post) his explanation of the Khmer Rouge (misnamed the Pol Pot regime) as being primarily motivated by racism, doesn't hold water. The overwhelming majority of the Khmer Rouge victims -- some of whom included many of my relatives -- were from the ethnic Khmer majority, not from Cambodia's ethnic minorities. Kiernan, as a former supporter of Pol Pot (until 1978) who is now a supporter of the current Hun Sen regime in Cambodia, seems determined to protect what he considers the "good" idea of communism from the bad reputation of Pol Pot. As an Australian educated Cambodian, who has studied the history of communism, I find Kiernan's perspective quite bizarre, not to say morally repugnant. A far better written and more reliable account of the topic is Elizabeth Becker's When The War Was Over. The most reliable academic history is David Chandler's Tragedy of Cambodian History and the relevant sections of his briefer History of Cambodia.
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on 12 August 2008
This book is an excellent scholarly account of the psychotic Khymer Rouge regime which enslaved Cambodia from 1975 till its over throw by the Vietnanese in 1979. The massacres in cities, countryside and frontiers is well documented as is the agragarian slavery that was imposed.However the book can not fully describe the horrors of Tuol Seng prison (S21) alook round the prison will haunt you for life.
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on 18 February 1999
Gives great insight into the nature of the "Killing Fields" regime of Pol Pot and his clique. The downside is that it is a bit repetitive at times. However, definitely worth the time in learning the nature and strategy of this terrible time.
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on 28 June 2015
A very in-depth analysis of the Pol Pot regime, its actions and some of the reasons it did what it did. A very interesting read.
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on 20 November 2014
Our daughter who is training to be a History teacher loves this book!!
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