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A gripping and definitive portrait of the man who headed one of the most enigmatic and terrifying regimes of modern times.
In the three and a half years of Pol Pot’s rule, more than a million Cambodians, a fifth of the country’s population, were executed or died from hunger. An idealistic and reclusive figure, Pol Pot sought to instill in his people values of moral purity and self-abnegation through a revolution of radical egalitarianism. In the process his country descended into madness, becoming a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which obedience was enforced on the killing fields.
How did a utopian dream of shared prosperity mutate into one of the worst nightmares humanity has ever known? To understand this almost inconceivable mystery, Philip Short explores Pol Pot’s life from his early years to his death. Short spent four years traveling throughout Cambodia interviewing the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge movement, many of whom have never spoken…[more]
The definitive biography of the man who dominated modern Chinese history.
When the Nationalists routed a ragtag Red Army on the Xiang River during the Long March, an earthy Chinese peasant with a brilliant mind moved to a position of power. Eight years after his military success, Mao Tse-Tung had won out over more sophisticated rivals to become party chairman, his title for life. Isolated by his eminence, he lived like a feudal emperor for much of his reign after a blood purge took more lives than those killed by either Stalin or Hitler. His virtual quarantine resulted in an ideological/political divide and a devastating reign of terror that became the Cultural Revolution. Though Mao broke the shackles of two thousand years of Confucian right thinking and was the major force of contemporary China, he reverted to the simplistic thinking of his peasant origins at the end, sustained by the same autocratic process that supported China’s first emperors. …[more]