Pol Pot

Pol Pot, 1925–98, Cambodian political leader, originally named Saloth Sar. Paris-educated, and a Khmer Communist leader from 1960, he led Khmer Rouge guerrillas against the government of Lon Nol after 1970. In 1975 he proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea and served as its premier (1976–79). The systematic murder of members of various groups; the complete destruction of individual rights; forced labor, disease, and starvation in Cambodia's "killing fields" ; the transformation of a developing country into a xenophobic agrarian society; and other horrors that can be ascribed to the cruelty or ineptitude of Pol Pot made him one of the most infamous leaders in modern history. Some 1.5 million out of a total population of about 7 million died during his rule, which ended with an invasion by the Vietnamese in late 1979. Although he retired officially in 1985, Pol Pot continued to control his guerrillas, the strongest antigovernment force, in western jungle areas of Cambodia until factional collapse shortly before his death.

See biographies by D. Chandler (1992, rev. ed. 1999) and P. Short (2005); study by B. Kiernan (2d ed. 2002).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Pol Pot: Selected full-text books and articles

Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot By David P. Chandler Westview Press, 1999 (Revised edition)
Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison By David Chandler University of California Press, 1999
Cambodia, 1975-1982 By Michael Vickery South End Press, 1984
Librarian's tip: Chap. 4 "Kampuchea: From Democratic to People's Republic"
Propaganda, Politics, and Violence in Cambodia: Democratic Transition under United Nations Peace-Keeping By Steve Heder; Judy Ledgerwood M. E. Sharpe, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "Imaging the Other in Cambodian Nationalist Discourse before and during the UNTAC Period"
Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions By George J. Andreopoulos University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994
Librarian's tip: "The Cambodian Genocide: Issues and Responses" begins on p. 191
Genocide by Proxy: Cambodian Pawn on a Superpower Chessboard By Michael Haas Praeger Publishers, 1991
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "From the Khmer Empire to Four Warring Factions," Chap. 3 "Cambodia," and Chap. 10 "International Conference on Kampuchea"
Temporarily FREE! A Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts By Samuel Totten; William S. Parsons; Israel W. Charny Routledge, 2004 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 11 "The Cambodian Genocide, 1975-1979"
A History of Cambodia By David Chandler Westview Press, 2000 (3rd edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 12 "Revolution in Cambodia"
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