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The Tragedy of Cambodian History

This history of Cambodia from World War II up to the Vietnamese invasion in 1979 focuses on the devastating revolution that convulsed the country under Pol Pot between 1975 and 1979, and the civil war that preceded it. David Chandler offers an analysis of the chaos during the 1970s and an understanding of events in the previous quartercentury. Drawing on vast quantities of primary material (including his own reports for the US embassy while a foreign service officer in Phnom Penh), on interviews, and on the scholarly literature, Chandler considers why the revolution happened, how it related to Cambodia's earlier history and to other events in southeast Asia, why it took the course it did, who was responsible for it, and to what extent its ideology drew on foreign rather than Cambodian elements.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 In Search of Independence, 1945-1950 2 Political Warfare, 1950-1955 3 Sithanouk Unopposed, 1956-1962 4 Cambodia Clouds Over, 1963-1966 5 Changing the Rules, 1967-1969 6 Sliding Towards Chaos, 1970-1975 7 Revolution in Cambodia, 1975-1979 8 Inside the Typhoon: Testimonies.


Intended as a sequel to the author's A History of Cambodia (Westview Pr., 1983), the current work does an excellent job of continuing the story from 1945 through 1979. External events and forces are important, but the account is centered on events within Cambodia. Furthermore, non-Communist activities receive much better attention than in Ben Kiernan's How Pol Pot Came to Power (Verso, 1985) or Craig Etcherson's Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea ( LJ 7/84). Chandler's command of sources is superb, from the written documentation to the extensive use of interviews. And although coverage of the Pol Pot period is less detailed than in numerous other works, Chandler contributes a valuable attempt to understand the conditions and mentalities which led to its horrors. Highly recommended.-- Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.

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