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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best Books About Cambodia

Cambodia can be a kingdom of mystery, but understanding its history from the grandeur to Angkor, through it colonial past, its struggles to stay out of the Vietnam conflict, its dark days of the Khmer Rouge and its emergence as the personal coffer of Prime Minister Hun Sen can help you understand more of what is going on behind that every-ready and beguiling Khmer smile.  While just a beginning reading list, these titles are sure ways to deepen your understanding and interest in this mysterious kingdom and will surely lead to future readings.

A History of CambodiaDavid Chandler is the Grandfather of Cambodian history studies, and practically nothing is produced that isn't reliant on some degree on his previous scholarly work.  This work covers the earliest time up the the rise of Hun Sen.


Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide (California Series in Public Anthropology, 11) This tour de force by anthropologist of genocide Alexander Hinton is the most detailed study yet to appear in English of the Khmer Rouge ideology and indoctrination that allowed them to indiscriminately kill their fellow country men, women, children and infants.  Of all books about that black time in the history of Cambodia, we recommend this one the most.

Cambodia: Report From a Stricken LandWhile outdated--published just after the fall of the Khmer Rouge--Henry Kamm still gives one a sense of just what happened.  As a journalist and well connected to the ruling party, he gives insights about the fall of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge unavailable to others.

Lonely Planet Southeast Asia: On a ShoestringLonely Planet Cambodia (Country Guide)We love Lonely Planet.  It continues to offer the best Southeast Asian Guides ever since publishing its first travel book--Southeast Asia on a Shoestring.

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (P.S.)
When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge
While some how called into doubt just how well Loung Ung could have recalled the earliest recollections, First They Killed My Father along with When Broken Glass Floats are both haunting tales from Khmer Rouge survivors. 

Cambodia After the Khmer Rouge: Inside the Politics of Nation BuildingWhile a bit outdated, published in 2004, Gottesman's book Cambodia: After the Khmer Rouge covers the important formative period after the fall of the Khmer Rouge up to recent years.  For a better understanding of how Cambodia became the personal playground of strongman Hun Sen, this is highly recommended.


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