Pol Pot by Philip Short
Anatomy of a Nightmare (John MacRae Books)

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Synopsis

A gripping and definitive portrait of the man who headed one of the most enigmatic and terrifying regimes of modern times



In the three and a half years of Pol Pot's rule, more than a million Cambodians, a fifth of the country's population, were executed or died from hunger. An idealistic and reclusive figure, Pol Pot sought to instill in his people values of moral purity and self-abnegation through a revolution of radical egalitarianism. In the process his country descended into madness, becoming a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which obedience was enforced on the killing fields.



How did a utopian dream of shared prosperity mutate into one of the worst nightmares humanity has ever known? To understand this almost inconceivable mystery, Philip Short explores Pol Pot's life from his early years to his death. Short spent four years traveling throughout Cambodia interviewing the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge movement, many of whom have never spoken before, including Pol Pot's brother-in-law and the former Khmer Rouge head of state. He also sifted through the previously closed archives of China, Russia, Vietnam, and Cambodia itself to trace the fate of one man and the nation that he led into ruin.



This powerful biography reveals that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were not a one-off aberration but instead grew out of a darkness of the soul common to all peoples. Cambodian history and culture combined with intervention from the United States and other nations to set the stage for a disaster whose horrors echo loudly in the troubling events of our world today.



 

About Philip Short

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Philip Short has been a foreign correspondent for The Times (London), The Economist, and the BBC in Uganda, Moscow, China, and Washington, D.C. He is the author of the definitive biography of Mao Tse-tung, and lived in China and Cambodia in the 1970s and early 1980s, where he has returned regularly ever since. He now lives in southern France with his Chinese wife.
 
Published April 1, 2007 by Henry Holt and Co.. 560 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Pol Pot

Kirkus Reviews

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"He was very likeable, a really nice person. He was friendly, and everything he said seemed very sensible." But he was also one of history's most accomplished mass murderers, as this portrait shows.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightma...

Publishers Weekly

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Towards the beginning of this massive biography, Short cautions readers against dismissing the terror of Pol Pot's regime as the incomprehensible work of evil men. Instead, Short argues, the explanati

Jan 31 2005 | Read Full Review of Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightma...

The New York Times

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Philip Short constructs a lucid account of how Pol Pot transformed Cambodia, almost overnight, into hell on earth.

Feb 18 2005 | Read Full Review of Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightma...

The New York Times

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Philip Short tries to fathom Pol Pot's mysterious personality and his place in Cambodia's violent history.

Feb 27 2005 | Read Full Review of Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightma...

Publishers Weekly

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Occasionally, Short's attempts to understand Pol's psychology lapse into vast over-generalization, as when he attributes Pol's erratic behavior to ""the perpetual Khmer tendency to take things to extremes."" More often, though, Short expertly identifies the historical and ideological causes that ...

| Read Full Review of Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightma...

Asian Review of Books

... REVIEW | 17 May 2016 ... Asian fiction, poetry and children's books: links to
recent reviews in the ARB and around the world .... North America, adds to this
collection with her fascinating and well-researched Butterfly's Sisters.

May 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightma...

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