An excellent account of the cataclysm that was Cambodian history of the past decade. Becker, a Washington Post journalist, was one of only two American reporters allowed into Poi Pot's Cambodia (one of her fellow observers was murdered). She begins her account with an overview of Cambodian history going back to the days of the Angkor Empire. This makes the tragedy even more compelling, as the roots of Cambodian history seem to be steeped in a deep cultural originality and pacifism--indeed, the Angkor temple complex is ""to modern Cambodians what the Parthenon is to today's Greeks--. . .visible reminders that Cambodia was once the premier state and culture of the region."" How could the Khmer Rouge, then, murder fully one-third of the nation's population? Becker, seeing matters through the eyes of one Komphot, whose idealism was destroyed by the movement, demonstrates how the Khmer Rouge masterfully camouflaged their intentions. They ""did not appear to be a radical alternative to what had come before. . . Thus, the Cambodian people followed the initial instructions. . .when the war ended. . .and marched into a life more miserable than any could imagine."" Much of the slaughter was undertaken in the name of efficiency and profit (this, in a land where the city was eschewed for the sake of rural values). Workers were discarded with the aphorism: ""If you keep this man there is no profit, if he goes there is no loss."" A chilling, touching, often brilliant reminder of a modern-day holocaust.
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