A History of Cambodia

A History of Cambodia

A History of Cambodia

A History of Cambodia


This clear and concise volume provides a timely overview of Cambodia, a small but increasingly visible Southeast Asian nation. Hailed by the Journal of Asian Studies as an "original contribution, superior to any other existing work, " the third edition of this acclaimed text has been completely revised and updated to include all-new material examining the death of Pol Pot and the region's continuing rivalry for political power. In addition, Chandler examines the unstable but influential career of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the bloody reign of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, and the relative calm that followed the Vietnamese invasion of 1979. This comprehensive general description and analysis of Cambodia will illuminate -- for specialists and general readers alike -- the history and contemporary politics of a country long misunderstood.


I began studying Cambodia forty years ago when I was enrolled as a student of Khmer at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, D.C. Over the years that followed I contracted a multitude of intellectual debts, which it's a pleasure to acknowledge here. Since I began my research for the first edition of this book in 1977, many people have helped me to maneuver what I have written into print. I am grateful to them all.

Chapters 6-13 are based in part on my research with primary sources. Chapters 6 and 7 are drawn largely from my doctoral dissertation, Cambodia Before the French: Politics in a Tributary Kingdom, 1794-1847 (Ann Arbor, 1974). Chapters 8 and 9 reflect archival work I carried out in Aix-en- Provence and Paris in 1977, 1983, and 1986. Much of the material in Chapter 10 can also be traced to these archival forays. Of the chapters written for the second edition, Chapters 11 and 12 benefited from interviews I carried out between 1986 and 1998, from unpublished materials, and from documents released by the U.S. State Department under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Chapter 13, expanded for the third edition, draws on documentary material from several sources and on information collected during several visits to Cambodia between 1990 and 1999.

The first five chapters, on the other hand, rely heavily on secondary materials. My debt to the writings of L. P. Briggs, George Coedes, Claude Jacques, Michael Vickery, and my colleague Ian Mabbett should be evident from the notes. The material in Chapters 2 and 5 owes much to Vickery's pioneering work. Chapter 5 was further enriched by the insights of Ashley Thompson and Claude Jacques as well as by the invaluable recent research of Saveros Pou, Khin Sok, and Mak Phoeun.

Ben Kiernan and Ian Mabbett read the first edition in draft and suggested several improvements. Kate Frieson made helpful comments on the chapters written for the second edition, and the suggestions for improvement made by my wife, Susan, on all three versions of the text were always persuasive. For the third edition, I'm especially grateful for help from Steve Heder, Claude Jacques, Judy Ledgerwood, Miriam Stark, and Youk Chhang. This new edition, like the earlier ones, is dedicated to our children. I'm grateful, finally, to my successive editors at Westview-- Mervyn Adams Seldon, Susan McEachern, Deborah Lynes, Carol Jones . . .

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