Editor's book choices
|Blowing away the cobwebs - photo courtesy of Nick Sells (Kampuchea Party Republic)|
by Haing Ngor, with Roger Warner
If you thought Haing Ngor’s acting performance in The Killing Fields was spellbinding, then I urge you to read his miraculous memoir and realize that his own personal story was even more harrowing and heart-wrenching than any Hollywood movie could portray. Haing Ngor, who won an Academy Award for his performance as Dith Pran in the film, sadly was murdered by a street gang in Los Angeles in February 1996.
Images of the Gods: Khmer Mythology in Cambodia, Laos & Thailand
by Vittorio Roveda
The temples of Angkor are a magical draw for visitors to Cambodia. The structures themselves are incredible, but it’s the intricate carvings that adorn their walls and doorways—telling the lives and legends of Hindu gods and heroes—that few understand better than Vittorio Roveda. His definitive 544-page tome is the culmination of meticulous research into these sculptures that many marvel at but few fully understand.
River of Time
by Jon Swain
A nostalgic, passionate, and personal love story from a journalist who lived through the Vietnam and Cambodia wars and survived, when many of his fellow journalists didn’t. He includes a firsthand account of life in the French Embassy in the first days of the Khmer Rouge takeover in Phnom Penh, a scene perfectly encapsulated in the movie The Killing Fields. Swain was The Sunday Times’s correspondent in Paris for many years.
When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up under the Khmer Rouge
by Chanrithy Him
Khmer Rouge survivor stories have become fairly commonplace in the last decade, but Chanrithy Him’s story is so well written, so expressive, and so painful that it’s a must for anyone interested in this period of Cambodia’s turbulent history. It’s a truly inspiring story of survival and courage in the face of adversity. Today, Chanrithy Him is a public speaker, classical dancer, writer, and aspiring screenwriter. Her sequel, Unbroken Spirit, has yet to be published.
Along with these top choices, I must give honorable mention to a handful of books that are definitely worth checking out—some of which are noted by To Cambodia With Love writers in the following sections. They include my recommended temple guide, Ancient Angkor by Claude Jacques and Michael Freeman; memoirs from Somaly Mam (The Road of Lost Innocence), Geraldine Cox (Home Is Where the Heart Is), and Kari Grady Grossman (Bones That Float: A Story of Adopting Cambodia); novels by Geoff Ryman (The King’s Last Song) and Christopher J. Koch (Highways to a War); and David Chandler’s chilling exposé of the Khmer Rouge’s detention center Tuol Sleng (Voices from S-21).