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A Short History of Cambodia: From Empire to Survival
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A Short History of Cambodia: From Empire to Survival

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  138 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In this concise and compelling history, Cambodia’s past is described in vivid detail, from the richness of the Angkorean empire through the dark ages of the 18th and early-19th centuries, French colonialism, independence, the Vietnamese conflict, the Pol Pot regime, and its current incarnation as a troubled democracy. With energetic writing and passion for the subject, Joh ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Allen Unwin (first published March 1st 2006)
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J.M. Hushour
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A nice, terse, sufficient history of one of the most unfortunate countries in the world. Seriously, folks, it couldn't really get much worse for poor ol' Cambodia whose once grand history descended into a kind of 20th-21st century hell that I could only liken to being locked in a closet with Richard Simmons for a week of primal scream therapy. First the French, then the Americans and the Vietnamese basically undermined and levelled the whole goddamn country either directly or indirectly through ...more
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I would argue that Cambodia has had the toughest last 500 years of any country in existence. Certainly other countries have had remarkably bad moments in history, but damn...Cambodian bad luck has lasted pretty much since the downfall of the Angkorian empire. It probably would have been wiped off the map by contentious neighbors if not for French imperialism in the 19th century (maybe the only good result I can think of as a result of European imperialism)... The US dropped more bombs on the pop ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With zero background of the country or history I found this book relatively easy to read. A great primer of Cambodian history all the way up to the present. This book was a real eye opener for me. I learned a lot and a lot of present day world politics make more sense after having read this book.
Good informative summary of the troubled nation, but I felt like in the modern era, it started glossing over colloquial details in favor of facts, figures, and parties. Also pretty clearly tendential and eye-rollingly emotive at times.
Scott Gilbert
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
As an American who grew up during the Vietnam War, I thought I knew a bit about Cambodia. This book shattered my ignorance thoroughly. The chain of oppression, poverty, and mayhem that makes up Cambodia's history is a horrifying, fascinating study. The United State's psychotic bombing of the country, carefully outlined here, has changed my view of my own government forever. Most sadly, I had thought that Cambodia had reached a calmer point in its history and been able to recover somewhat from th ...more
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: brief historians
Shelves: non-fiction
Well if you're looking for a short history of cambodia you've found one. It fulfills its promise precisely. It really is a broad, fast-paced overview of Cambodia's history and politics (which boggle the mind even in the less detailed version). The only real annoyance I had with it was that the author kept referencing Francois Bizot's memoir The Gate for some gods unknown reason even though I'm sure there's loads of memoirs about the Khymer Rouge. Perhaps he really liked it. Or maybe he figured i ...more
Nov 12, 2008 rated it liked it
This book seems a fairly comprehensive review of the Khmer people and Cambodian history. The author brings an insightful perspective into the factors that have affected the development (or in the case of when the Khmer Rouge were in power, the destruction) of Cambodia and the mindset of the people. There were many references that were a little beyond my knowledge and I would say to the non-historian this book is somewhat esoteric.
Jim Driscoll
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who just wanted some background on an interesting country in SE Asia, I thought this book was a good overview of the history of the country.

It covered all the high points, and seemed reasonably complete. I did wish it had gone into more detail on military matters, as well as the life of the common people - it was primarily a book which examined the political history of the country.

Enrique Muñoz
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read ... a political history mostly; virtually nothing on art or social culture, religion, philosophy, & economics. Enlightening nevertheless since my starting knowledge base was zero. Easy reading flow with minimal digression or far fetched opinions as is so often the case in other history writings.
Eddie Ashcroft
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting insight into the history of Cambodia from early pre-colonial days to post Pol Pot period. It's a good read and provides an understanding of relationships between countries in the region throughout history, the alliances that have been forged and the plight of the peasants throughout this process. A country that has much to offer but hamstrung through its administration.
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it
I would say this is a fairly comprehensive book to start with if you are already interested in Cambodia and want a brief overview to start with. I wouldn't recommend it to people who aren't already interested, as it doesn't exactly make Cambodian history come alive.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I visited Cambodia in 2014 and felt I knew shamefully little about the country so bought this book. I've just got around to reading it, and enjoyed a lot. It is very short but I found it useful and engaging.
Kate Tilley
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you are going there, read this. There is much more to Cambodia than the Khmer Rouge, but you'd never hope to understand it without getting the backdrop. Who has time to do the undergraduate study? So, this is just enough.
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Concise and interesting.
Michal Huniewicz
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great, non-pretentious introduction to the history of Cambodia, with a lot of references and quotes for future research.
Feb 02, 2014 added it
A succinct and straight forward account of Cambodian history. Certainly clarified the often tortuous developments of the twentieth century that has led Cambodia to its present situation
Michael Lucibella
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Geoffrey Rose
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Paul Harper
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