Synopses & Reviews
What was the nature of the regime that turned Cambodia into grisly killing fields and murdered or starved to death a million and a half of the country`s eight million inhabitants? In this riveting book, the first definitive account of the Khmer Rouge revolution, a world-renowned authority on Cambodia shows how an ideological preoccupation with racist and totalitarian policies led a group of intellectuals to impose genocide on their own country. "A deeply detailed, meticulously reported history . . . important, valuable and worth reading. . . . Kiernan documents the killing with impressive specificity, using interviews with survivors to escort the reader to every part of the country. . . . The testimony and documentation Kiernan amasses is quite powerful. . . . This is after all a work of scholarship that will be one of the most widely used reference books on the Cambodian tragedy."-Sydney H. Schanberg, The Nation "Authoritative."-Richard Gough, Times Higher Education Supplement "One of the most important contributions to the subject so far, and one which neither specialist scholars nor general readers can afford to ignore."-R. B. Smith, Asian Affairs "Definitive."-London Review of Books "Impressively researched and deeply disturbing."-Sunday Telegraph "This important book thoroughly documents what happened and plausibly explains why. In all probability it will remain the definitive work on the subject for many years."-Asian Thought and Society "Perhaps the most complete account of Pol Pot`s terror and the closest to Cambodian sources."-The Economist
"This is not the first account of Pol Pot's terror....But Mr. Kiernan's is perhaps the most complete and the closest to Cambodian sources." The Economist
"Nobody reading this detailed and chilling history would accuse the author of being an apologist for that regime." Asiaweek
"Kiernan, the leading authority on modern Cambodia, meticulously examines Pol Pot's killing machine and clears up many misconceptions found in earlier studies....An important book for students of genocide as well as scholars of Southeast Asia." Library Journal
"The story of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge is as chilling, insane and incredible as that of any genocide in history....A deeply detailed, meticulously reported history....Important, valuable and worth reading....Kiernan documents the killing with impressive specificity, using interviews with survivors to escort the reader to every part of the country....The testimony and documentation Kiernan amasses is quite powerful....This is after all a work of scholarship that will be one of the most widely used reference books on the Cambodian tragedy. While legions of Western scholars have devoted themselves to the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany, very few have made it their mission to look into the depths of the genocides that occur in little countries, far away in the Third World. Ben Kiernan has done this for Cambodia." Sydney H. Schanberg, Nation
"A very important addition to our knowledge of a regime about which we have had all too little reliable information. Unusually rich in detail, the book is filled with unique data that are objectively assessed and analyzed." George McT. Kahin, Cornell University
The Khmer Rouge revolution turned Cambodia into grisly killing fields, as the Pol Pot regime murdered or starved to death a million and a half of Cambodia's eight million inhabitants. This book the first comprehensive study of the Pol Pot regime describes the violent origins, social context, and course of the revolution, providing a new answer to the question of why a group of Cambodian intellectuals imposed genocide on their own country.
Ben Kiernan draws on more than five hundred interviews with Cambodian refugees, survivors, and defectors, as well as on a rich collection of previously unexplored archival material from the Pol Pot regime (including Pol Pot's secret speeches). He recounts how in the first few days after Cambodia became Democratic Kampuchea in 1975, authorities evacuated all cities, closed hospitals, schools, monasteries, and factories, and abolished the use of money. For nearly four years, the country was a prison-camp state, the countryside was "cleansed" of minorities, and a savage war was fought against Vietnam. Exploring the nature of the regime that enforced such a revolution, Kiernan shows that its atrocities the widespread massacres, forced assimilation of minorities, and foreign alliances and wars can be explained by its ideological preoccupation with racist and totalitarian policies. Kiernan concludes with a description of the resistance movements that sprang up and the destruction of the regime by Vietnamese forces in 1979.