The New York Times
Biography of the Khmer Rouge leader
The New York Times
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
"Readable and capacious...the most thorough-going, most closely argued study of the Khmer Rouge to appear to date." —David Chandler, Far Eastern Economic Review
"Vividly drawn . . . Short's text sparkles with shrewdly plausible inferences mortared into a compelling narrative." —William T. Vollman, New York Times Book Review
"A well-written narrative possessing both shocking detail and thoughtful analysis. Highly recommended." —starred Library Journal
"A superbly wrought, richly nuanced study in evil." —starred Kirkus Reviews
"Broaden[s} the inquiry to the point where serious history begins, and serious judgments can be made." —Justin Wintle, Financial Times
“Philip Short’s Pol Pot is an almanac of extermination that achieves the near impossible feat of translating madness into logic. This biography is a tour de force.”—David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of W. E. B. DuBois
“An intelligent and compassionate account of the Cambodian nightmare.”—The Spectator
“Extraordinary and brilliant... This hugely impressive book is more than just the life story of an individual. It is also the biography of a nation... Short has exposed secrets, knitting together a story which it once seemed would never be told. The result is horrific, but it must be read.”—The Scotsman
“Unerringly broadens the enquiry to the point where serious history begins and serious judgments can be made.”—Financial Times
“A comprehensive and eloquent biography...This is a long, dark and necessary book..”—Literary Review, London
“Short is a gifted biographer who knows his communists. [His account] is the most definitive yet.”—Time [Asian edition]
“Short’s most valuable contribution is to bring clear thinking to the question of blame... He is brisk about the cynical policy of Vietnam... and also indicts the Chinese, who have largely escaped censure for their complicity with the Khmer Rouge.”—Sunday Times, London
“A brilliantly detailed account and a salutary one.”—Sunday Herald, Glasgow
- Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
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.Philip Short is the author of several books, among them the definitive biographies Mao: A Life and Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare. He has been a foreign correspondent for The Times (London), The Economist, and the BBC in Uganda, Moscow, China, and Washington, D.C.
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Read an Excerpt
From Pol Pot:
There were many causes of the egregious tragedy that befell Cambodia in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and many actors amongst whom responsibility must be shared. The over-confidence of the country's new leaders, above all of its principal leader, the man who would become Pol Pot, was but one element among them, and at the time of the Khmer Rouge victory, one that was skillfully dissembled.
Another full year would pass before the reclusive figure who had directed the war on the communist side would emerge from clandestinity and take the name by which his compatriots, and the rest of the world, would remember him.
Even then, he did so reluctantly. For two decades he had operated under multiple aliases: Phouk, Hay, Pol, "87," Grand-Uncle, Elder Brother-to be followed in later years by "99" and Phem. "It is good to change your name," he once told one of his secretaries. "The more often you change your name the better. It confuses the enemy." Then he added, in a phrase which would become a Khmer Rouge mantra: "If you preserve secrecy, half the battle is already won." The architect of the Cambodian nightmare was not a man who liked working out in the open.
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