When the War Was Over: The Voices of Cambodia's Revolution and Its People

Elizabeth Becker, Author
Elizabeth Becker, Author Simon & Schuster $19.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-41787-1
Reviewed on: 09/29/1986
Release date: 10/01/1986
Becker, a Washington Post reporter and longtime Asia hand, spent seven years researching and writing this impressive book, which tells in full the story of the Cambodian tragedy. The Khmer Rouge, attempting the ultimate revolution, operated from a philosophy of racial superiority and purity resembling that of Nazi Germany. ""Cruelty,'' writes Becker, ``as embodied in the concept of purityeither as pure Communist, pure Cambodian, or pure loyalisthad replaced thinking.'' Her descriptions of the Cambodian holocaust are horrifying. The narrative includes fresh material on Khmer Rouge leaders, Lon Nol, Prince Sihanouk, the torture and execution center at Tuol Sleng, and the efforts of U.S. State Department officials to prevent the Vietnamese invasion. Finally, the author describes her own haunted return to Cambodia, meetings with Pol Pot and Ieng Sary, and a terror-filled night during which a colleague was murdered. Becker concludes that while the Americans and Vietnamese are responsible for much of Cambodia's sorrows, ultimately the Cambodians were victims of their own leaders, traditions and history. Photos. (October 2)
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