The definitive portrait of Pol Pot, the enigmatic man behind the most terrifying regime of modern times
Pol Pot was an idealistic, reclusive figure with great charisma and personal charm. He initiated a revolution whose radical egalitarianism exceeded any other in history. But in the process, Cambodia desended into madness and his name became a byword for oppression.
In the three-and-a-half years of his rule, more than a million people, a fifth of Cambodia's population, were executed or died from hunger and disease. A supposedly gentle, carefree land of slumbering temples and smiling peasants became a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which absolute obedience was enforced on the 'killing fields'.
Why did it happen How did an idealistic dream of justice and prosperity mutate into one of humanity's worst nightmares Philip Short, the biographer of Mao, has spent four years travelling the length of Cambodia, interviewing surviving leaders of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge movement and sifting through previously closed archives. Here, the former Khmer Rouge Head of State, Pol's brother-in-law and scores of lesser figures speak for the first time at length about their beliefs and motives.
An extraordinary and brilliant book ... Like a clever and determined detective, Short has exposed the secrets, knitting together a story which it once seemed would never be told. The result is horrifying, but it must be read. - Scotland on Sunday
A superb, chilling, yet human portrait of a monster - Simon Sebag Montefiore, Daily Telegraph
A model of research ... an intelligent and compassionate account of the Cambodian nightmare - Spectator
His weighty book, which is as much a history of modern Cambodia as a biography of the man who shaped it, [is written with] with great discretion and sensitivity ... As well as a model of research, this is an intelligent and compassionate account of the Cambodian nightmare. - The Spectator
'The first full biography of the man who led Cambodia into darkness.' - Sue Baker - Publishing News
Like a clever and determined detective, Short has exposed the secrets ... The result is horrifying, but it must be read - Scotland on Sunday
Short has written the definitive account of the nightmarish regime of 1975-1978, responsible for the deaths of some 1.5 million Cambodians. - Contemporary Review
Brings clear thinking to the big questions of blame - Sunday Times