The Lost Executioner: A Journey to the Heart of the Killing Fields

Nic Dunlop, Author . Bloomsbury $24 (326p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1472-5

Long preoccupied by the Cambodian genocide in the late 1970s at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Irish-born and Thailand-based photojournalist Dunlop homed in on Comrade Duch, head of the Khmer Rouge secret police and Pol Pot's chief executioner, who had vanished. How had a well-educated schoolteacher (born Kaing Guek Eav) become commandant of a torture center and complicit in the deaths of an estimated 20,000 political prisoners? asks Dunlop in this measured but horrifying book, a chronicle of his dogged efforts to understand the carnage and bring about justice. With Duch at the book's core, the author (who worked in Cambodia throughout the '90s) weaves a contemporary account of a war-ravaged nation into the history of its ancient past and rumination on terror in the name of ideology. Dunlop also deepens his story with thoughtful—and very personal—commentary on photography and violence. In 1999, Dunlop found and confronted Duch, who voluntarily confessed to his role in the Khmer Rouge. Though Duch was then charged and imprisoned, he has not yet been brought to trial. Cambodia's labyrinthine politics can occasionally be difficult to digest, but Dunlop's personal quest for international justice holds the narrative together. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 10/24/2005
Release date: 02/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-8027-1824-2
Paperback - 332 pages - 978-1-4088-0401-8
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-8027-1564-7
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