The history of modern Cambodia has been one of invasion, occupation, political chaos, and genocidal terror. Marie Martin traces the evolution of post-World War II Cambodian politics and society, examining the disintegration of a once-peaceful nation. Interviews with peasants, refugees, politicians, and intellectuals, as well as exhaustive archival research, make this both a stirring ethnographic portrait and an exacting political analysis.
Twenty-five years of research and travel in Cambodia, much of it spent living in peasant villages, give Martin a unique perspective on the country's tragedies. She explores the influence of colonialism, Sihanouk's fragile position, popular socialism, and the Vietnam War, and also charts the politicization of Khmer youth, the right's rise to power, and peasant revolts. The horrors that occurred under the Khmer Rouge are documented, as are the grim atrocities of the Vietnamese occupation. Martin also examines the tenuous political configurations of present-day Cambodia and considers the country's future.
No book in English deals so completely with the political culture of Cambodia, and no writer has been more unrelenting and impassioned in testifying to the agony of the Cambodian people than Marie Martin. Her book will be acclaimed for its wealth of new information and for bearing eloquent witness to Cambodia's tragic story.
Marie Alexandrine Martin is Research Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. Mark W. McLeod is Associate Professor of History at the University of Delaware.