Ponchaud, Francois: Cambodia, Year Zero


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”On its publication in France, Year Zero received worldwide attention as the first detailed account of the 1975 Cambodian Communist revolution — one of the most brutal and least understood revolutions in history. Jean Lacouture, reviewing the French edition in the New York Review of Books, hailed it as ”by far the best informed report to appear on the new Cambodia.” Now, updated and with a new introductory note on the English translation, Year Zero remains the most authoritative source we have on contemporary Cambodia.Its author, Francois Ponchaud, was a missionary in Cambodia from 1965 until he was forced to flee Phnom Penh in May, 1975, just before the total victory of the Khmer Rouge. He observed at first hand the evacuation of the city and later amassed testimony from scores of Cambodian refugees in Thailand, Vietnam, and France. Their accounts of the horrors they endured — forced migration into the countryside, forced labor, starvation, disease, mass murder, separation of families — are presented in their own words, along with official radio and print communiques from the revolutionary government of Cambodia. Ponchaud traces the roots of the revolution in Cambodia’s history — including the role that the United States and other foreign powers played — and presents portraits of the revolutionary leaders. The shocking, close-up view Ponchaud provides is of a nation that has shut itself off from the outside world and a government that has systematically destroyed its own people and their past.”


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