Khmer Rouge

The Smell of Water by Lang Srey

1979, Cambodia, Eastern Zone: Two comrades, twelve and fourteen, are RUNNING to get away from their infantry unit before the invading Vietnamese kill all of them. They reach the foot of a mountain – and disappear into the jungle. Neither of them has any food or water. They have no blankets, either, or protective clothing of any kind.

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How Pol Pot Came to Power by Ben Kiernan

How did Pol Pot, a tyrant comparable to Hitler and Stalin in his brutality and contempt for human life, rise to power? This authoritative book explores what happened in Cambodia from 1930 to 1975, tracing the origins and trajectory of the Cambodian Communist movement and setting the ascension of Pol Pot's genocidal regime in the context of the conflict between colonialism and nationalism.

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When The War Was Over by Elizabeth Becker

Award-winning journalist Elizabeth Becker started covering Cambodia in 1973 for The Washington Post, when the country was perceived as little more than a footnote to the Vietnam War. Then, with the rise of the Khmer Rouge in 1975 came the closing of the border and a systematic reorganization of Cambodian society. Everyone was sent from the towns and cities to the countryside, where they were forced to labor endlessly in the fields. The intelligentsia were brutally exterminated, and torture, terror, and death became routine.

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To Destroy You is No Loss by JoAn D. Criddle

A documentary account of the treatment of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge, written by a keen observor of character and events. Life changed radically for the 15-year-old narrator when the regime took control, turning lives and values upside down. Anyone with education was marked for death; the people of the cities were driven into the countryside to a life of forced agricultural labor under harsh conditions. Positions of responsibility were given to the uneducated and unskilled.

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The Years of Zero by Seng Ty

The Years of Zero—Coming of Age Under the Khmer Rouge is a survivor’s account of the Cambodian genocide carried out by Pol Pot’s sadistic and terrifying Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. It follows the author, Seng Ty, from the age of seven as he is plucked from his comfortable, middle-class home in a Phnom Penh suburb, marched along a blistering, black strip of highway into the jungle, and thrust headlong into the unspeakable barbarities of an agricultural labor camp. Seng’s mother was worked to death while his siblings succumbed to starvation.

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A Short History of Cambodia by John Tully

Temples and killing fields, mighty rivers and impenetrable forests, a past filled with glory and decline Cambodia is a land of contrasts. A millennia ago it was an empire at the height of its power, building the vast temple complexes of Angkor. Now, a thousand years later, ravaged by conflict and a genocidal civil war, Cambodia finds itself struggling with democracy, beset by corruption and on the lowest end of the global spectrum of economic wealth.

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Stay Alive, My Son by Pin Yathay

On April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh to open a new and appalling chapter in the story of the twentieth century. On that day, Pin Yathay was a qualified engineer in the Ministry of Public Works. Successful and highly educated, he had been critical of the corrupt Lon Nol regime and hoped that the Khmer Rouge would be the patriotic saviors of Cambodia.

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Lulu in the Sky by Loung Ung

Concluding the trilogy that started with the bestselling memoir First They Killed My Father, Loung Ung describes her college experience and her first steps into adulthood, revealing her struggle to reconcile with her past while moving forward towards happiness. After the violence of the Khmer Rouge and the difficult assimilation experience of a refugee, Loung’s daily struggle to keep darkness, anger, and depression at bay will finally find two unexpected allies: the empowering call of activism, and the redemptive power of love.

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