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Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall reading: the fictional biography I Am Pol Pot

Fall is a time when many people look for new books to read. I Am Pol Pot is a historical novel that tries to intemperate the motives of the leadership of the short lived regime called Democratic Kampuchea. Most people have heard of Pol Pot, the loss of Kampuchean lives, and his movement, which was called the Khmer Rouge, by the western press.

Here is a short summery of the novel:

I Am Pol Pot

The making of Democratic Kampuchea
A fictional autobiography

By Steve Otto

This novel looks at Pol Pot’s revolution, which developed as a result of the 1970s turbulence of the Vietnam War. When President Richard Nixon spread the Vietnam War to Kampuchea, (called Cambodia today) he not only caused outrage and protest at home, including the Kent State Ohio massacres, but he also threw Kampuchea into a state of civil war. His inept handling of the situation brought about one of the strangest and cruel social experiment of the 20th Century. Pol Pot ruled through a committee known for the first year only as the Ankar (organization). His name was not even spoken to the Kampuchean people for two years. His Communist Party of Kampuchea had amassed a powerful movement of disenfranchised peasants, who were loyal to him and his regime. The Residence of Phnom Penh, the city’s capital, were not so lucky. They were treated with suspicion and punishment for those considered “un-redeemable” was harsh.
This novel looks at the Cambodian revolution from inside the ruling circle. It is a depiction of the man, his ideas and his motives. He saw himself as the world’s great redeemer, while most people outside his movement saw a horror show. This is his story.

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