Friday, February 15, 2008

Osborne's Phnom Penh

A veteran of no less than nine books on Southeast Asian history and politics, Canberra professor Milton Osborne has this month delivered his latest book, Phnom Penh - A Cultural and Literary History, published by Signal Books. The author first lived in the city in 1959 and knows his stuff. He puts into context the birth of the capital in the 1800's and the Sihanouk years when Phnom Penh deserved its reputation as the most attractive city in Southeast Asia but all that changed during the Pol Pot tyranny. Now the city is recapturing its vibrancy and Osborne has been here often enough to be the johnny on the spot to encapsulate that into the 256 pages of his new book. Osborne's previous titles on Cambodia include: Politics and Power in Cambodia: The Sihanouk Years (1973); Before Kampuchea: Preludes to Tragedy (1979); Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness (1994).
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A book that I purchased recently at Monument Books but which I failed to mention at the time of its publication was Roland Neveu's The Fall of Phnom Penh : 17 April 1975, released by Asia Horizon Books in October 2007. It was the day that will remain a black day in Cambodian history as the Khmer Rouge regime took control of the city and of the country and began a terrifying era for all Cambodians. Photographer Roland Neveu was there, he stayed behind after most of the press corps had left and his 35-mm mainly black and white shots are some of the few that record that fateful day. As an historical record, it's a must buy book. His other acclaimed book, Cambodia - The Years of Turmoil is another that I must get hold of.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank you, andy. i'm so glad veteran of cambodia like mr. osborne who had seen phnom penh before the pol pot time and saw how beautiful and attractive it was, can say more about it than young people who never actually saw phnom penh before the khmer rouge time. it takes someone like yourself and professor osborne to appreciate the true color of beautiful cambodia. i, myself, feel this way, too. thank you for your interest in cambodia. god bless you. perhaps, professor osborne can share pictures of phnom penh from that time. thank you.