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Ancient Angkor

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  33 reviews

French scholar, Claude Jacques, has studied Angkor for the past 30 years, while Michael Freeman has made many photographic trips there during a 20-yea r period. Ancient Angkor embodies the fruits of their collaboration and experience.

Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by River Books Press Dist A C (first published December 1st 1999)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Rick Silva
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many people, I purchased my copy of Ancient Angkor from a local vendor at the Angkor Wat temple in the midst of my visit to Cambodia.

I read the book after the trip, which is not the primary way in which it is intended to be read, but I still found it an enjoyable read that brought back memories and gave context to many things I saw on my temple tour.

The book is focused primarily on the architecture itself, and on the decorative carvings that adorn much of the Angkor architecture. There are
Michael Brady
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, history
There are bootleg versions (of unknown quality) of this excellent guide sold for a dollar on the causeway to Angkor Wat (and other temples). But this book is one you should review before you arrive and carry with you while there. It made our visit much more enjoyable, informative, and productive. PS, Be sure to visit the Rolous Group to the east of Siem Reap. Bakong and Lolei were two of my favorites.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not a book you're meant to read before or after going to Angkor, but a detailed, heavily illustrated visitor's guide that will take you through most of the temples literally step by step and explain what you see along the way. In order to make the most of it you need to follow the exact itineraries of each temple as laid out in the guide, as it might otherwise be quite confusing to figure out which statue or relief that's being described.

The book makes no mention of Koh Ker. This is unde
Beautiful and detailed book on the complete temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia (including temples in the surrounding area). I bought it from a kid selling copies when I was at Angkor Wat. It's really three books in one:

1. An excellent resource for planning your time there and as a companion on your journey through the temples (maps, suggestions, photos, and history).
2. A coffee table book - hundreds of vibrant, full-colour, glossy photos of the temples.
3. An in depth, almost scholarly look at the h
Christopher Haugen
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this at my hotel in Siem Reap while visiting Angkor Wat. I am so glad I did. It is content and photo rich. While we toured the sites this guide was helpful in getting a better sense of time, perhaps why a temple is as it is, and ideas for exploring. At each temple unless you have a local guide there is little in the way of information to a tourist. This book is a great supplement to your visit. I think reading some of the intro and construction sections prior to a visit are a good idea. ...more
Cam Mcneil
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can probably pick this up for a buck in Cambodia. Surprisingly it’s worth doing at the first opportunity. There are just so many Temples and ruins in Siem Reap that it’s hard to keep track of it all. If you’re there for a few days this will help you plan and get your head around it all.
Ho Aaron
This is more like a field guide book. Couple with a visit to Angkor to get the best out of it! Nonetheless, Angkor is a very romantic, very mysterious, intriguing anyone who loves history of civilizations.
Bronwyn Lok
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, history
Full review at
I bought this tour guide off the hands of one of the sellers loitering near the temples I was visiting. I think it was supposed to be USD 1, but I got conned into paying USD 11 when I showed interest and paid up. It really is supposed to be USD 1, because that is what I heard at first, and later all over the place with the other sellers. With its flawed binding, I think it is a reject from the printi
Divya Loganathan
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was practically my personal guide through Siem Reap for a week. Its packed with excellent illustrations (over 300), a map of the temple area and tips for travelling in Angkor. It also has itinerary suggestions and the temples listed by geographical direction/popularity etc which you will find very helpful if you just land in Siem Reap like me with an open week of just exploring the temples. The illustrations are very clear and it was fun to try and spot these in the temples. I also lik ...more
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i dare you to pick this book up and not immediately start planning your trip to southeast asia. i have been looking forward to seeing ankor wat for sometime now, but this book has created a long stream of drool as i long to get there asap. the pictures are amazing, though some a bit too small, but the text that goes along with them has blown me away.

i am so ready to be trekking though the ruins in a little over a week, and will have such better knowledge of what is going on and what i am looking
Vivek Thangaswamy

ANCIENT ANGKOR, quiet amazing pictures.

I just thought suggesting this piece of information.

Originally, South Indian empires

One of the temples they built in Indonesia also similar.

And in the book I never seen any route saying about Tamil Language. But whole Cambodia is ruled by Tamil speaking kings from India, I have seen many temples with Tamil inscriptions still exist.

In the book it mentioned as Sanskrit, but we
Jun 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Ancient Angkor is an informative guidebook to the complete complex of Angkor and other Angkorian sites in Cambodia such as the Roluos group. The lavish photographs of the temples and other sites are complemented by an informative introduction by Freeman to each site.

Each entry introduces the site in question and recommends whether one should visit it depending on how much time and how historically and culturally significant it is. The guide's introduction also has an interesting history of Khme
Tso William
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I find this book immensely useful, as I used it to supplant the poor guide of the travel agency. The directions are lucid and the snippets of information about the architectural style, the Hindu symbols on the carving/lintel/pediment and history of the temples allows me to immerse myself in the mysterious Angkor Wat. Although the photos are lavishly coloured, they gave little help in illustrating the directions of the visit. Instead, I would rather have maps with little arrows indicating the flo ...more
May 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This book is an excellent guide around the temples of Angkor surrounding Siem Reap, Cambodia. Each temple, both on the beaten tourist track [where you will most likely purchase this book] and off it is described in detail with great insight into the construction and original purpose of the temples. If you have a willing reader in your travel group it almost completely replaces the need for a tour guide. And, with plenty of great pictures of the temples it doubles as a reminder of how beautiful y ...more
Adi Arifin
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't and are planning to explore one of the world's most magnificent historic remains in Cambodia, the Angkor Complex, then this book is a must read to maximize your experience. Unfortunately it is cheaper to get it from a hawkers in Angkor or sidewalk stalls in Siem Reap rather than from a book shops. Detail and insightful guide plus extraordinary shots by Michael Freeman shows us where to go and what to see when we come, helping you to avoid missing important thing. A lot helpful eve ...more
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pasttense, wideworld
Look. If you, like me, prefer to shuffle through the temples with an informative book in hand, rather than make awkward conversation with a guide, this book will do nicely. But you have to believe me, no matter how bad the little girl hawkers make you feel, the going price for this book outside the temples is US$1, not what I paid (US$18, with a cowboy hat, and various little girl hawker commentaries on how I looked in it, thrown in).
Sivaram Velauthapillai
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
This is probably the most definitive book on the ruins of Angkor Wat. It is an excellent historical guide for anyone planning a visit. Instead of showing up at the site without any understanding of the ruins, reading this ahead of time provides the history and context. The book also contains excellent photographs that one can use to get a feel for what to visit at the site (the ruins are too big to cover everything).
Kai Crawford
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bought this for usd $10 outside of Preah Khan from a local hawker at the beginning of my trip. Not sure if I got a legitimate copy for a great price or got ripped off for a counterfeit that was only worth $1. Regardless, I was very satisfied since the quality is great (both the binding and the information). Helpful to have when exploring the temples on my own. I especially enjoyed the background info and history.
Josie Crimp
Jan 05, 2013 rated it liked it
I didn't read this cover-to-cover, but I did find it really useful when exploring Angkor Wat and the other temples around Siem Reap. It's clearly very well-researched, but I think it could be improved by having a bit more historical/social context, rather than just descriptions of what is left and what can be seen. ...more
Mar 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this while staying in Siem Reap to get a feel for the ruins before and while I was there. It had a good history of the Khmer, but was a bit pretentious and assuming of the reader's knowledge of other authors' works regarding Angkor Wat.

Helped a lot with understanding the layout, themes, and reliefs found in the ruins of Angkor Wat.
Ted Conbeer
May 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Decent little guide to the temples, although the $1 version you can buy all around Siem Reap is poorly printed and out-of-date w.r.t. current renovations, etc.

Still, much, much more informative than the Lonely Planet and the like.
Matthew Laing
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
An excellent guide to the ancient city of Angkor and its amazing sites. A great cross between a guide and a book on the subject, I felt it really enhanced my appreciation for my three days at these fascinating monuments of the Khmer Empire.
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
good guide book - especially of the reliefs.
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Make me more interested to visit Angkor Wat once more
Jul 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
Useful guide while visiting the temples. Short and good background information about several aspects related to the temples. Lots of pictures!
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was really helpful when we were going around the Angkorian temples in Siem Reap. Besides being a useful guide for tourists, the information is decent enough to be used for formal research.
Talbot Hook
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As far as guidebooks are concerned, this one is excellent.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Read as I explored temples. This is sold at $9 or less by locals.
The guide was more helpful and better at explaining than the book. The book just shows highlights and pictures.
Ambrose Miles
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a detailed travel book of Angkor. Even though this is meant to be a guide book, it would have been a better book if the color photographs could have been larger.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
A good, detailed, and well illustrated guide on Angkor temples.
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Librarian note: There is more than one author with this name in the Goodreads database.

Michael Freeman is a professional photographer and author. He wrote more than 100 book titles. He was born in England in 1945, took a Masters in geography at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and then worked in advertising in London for six years. He made the break from there in 1971 to travel up the Amazon

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