Cambodia Now

Life in the Wake of War


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About the Book

Cambodia has never recovered from its Khmer Rouge past. The genocidal regime of 1975–1979 and the following two decades of civil war ripped the country apart. This work examines Cambodia in the aftermath, focusing on Khmer people of all walks of life and examining through their eyes key facets of Cambodian society, including the ancient Angkor legacy, relations with neighboring countries (particularly the strained ones with the Vietnamese), emerging democracy, psychology, violence, health, family, poverty, the environment, and the nation’s future.
Along with print sources, research is drawn from hundreds of interviews with Cambodians, including farmers, royalty, beggars, teachers, monks, orphanage heads, politicians, and non-native experts on Cambodia. Dozens of exquisite photographs of Cambodian people and places illustrate the work, which concludes with a glossary of Cambodian words, people, places and names, and an appendix of organizations providing aid to Cambodia.

About the Author(s)

Author Karen J. Coates is a journalist and media trainer and the 2011 T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Montana. She writes for a variety of newspapers, magazines and journals around the world and lives in Peralta, New Mexico.

Bibliographic Details

Karen J. Coates
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 392
Bibliographic Info: photos, glossary, maps, notes, chronology, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2051-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5402-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

Introduction      5

Map of Cambodia      12


1. War Remnants: Mines and Desperation      15

2. Leaving Cambodia: Passing the Test      34

3. Genocide: Ghosts on the Porch      41

4. Angkor: An Empire in Ruins      50

Interlude: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh      67

5. Neighbors and Borders: Enemies Through Time      70

Interlude: The Admiral’s House      88

6. Kampuchea Krom: The Land Next Door      90

7. Anlong Veng: Beyond the Khmer Rouge      97

Interlude: Bond and Than      106


8. Democracy: Rice and Rights      111

Interlude: Sam and Vic      127

9. Violence and Crime: Blood in the Street      130

Interlude: A Runner’s Course      138

10. Psychology: After the Tragedy      142

11. The Wanderers: A People Uprooted      152

12. Women: The Lesser Sex      165

13. Children: Born Against Odds      175

14. Health: Living Against Odds      199

Interlude: Dog Bite      214

15. Pollution: Sewage and Waste      218

16. Environment: Threats in the Wild      233

17. The Fringe: People on the Edge      253


18. The Crossroads: Tugged in Two Directions      279

19. Development: Building on Quicksand      291

Interlude: Cops and Dogs      299

20. Heroes: Doing It Their Way      302

21. Prospects: No Easy Peace      325

Afterword      333

Glossary      337

People, Places and Names      339

Organizations      341

Cambodian Time Line      343

Notes      347

Selected Bibliography      365

Index      377

Book Reviews & Awards

Winner, August Derleth Award—Council for Wisconsin Writers; Editors’ Pick—Foreign Policy Association
“compelling”—Pacific Affairs Journal; “in this moving book, illustrated with Redfern’s photos, Coates depicts the spunk, the verve, and the color of a resilient and optimistic people”—Wildlife Conservation Magazine; “an impressive book…one of a few publications to focus on life in Cambodia today”—The Montanan; “I loved the book, I could hardly put it down…a must read…strongly recommended”—Cambodia Tales; “relentlessly compelling essays…haunting photos…combines human stories and journalistic thoroughness…examines Cambodia through a variety of prisms”—The Register-Guard; (Eugene, Oregon); “Coates and Redfern found a country that had been torn apart by war and remained violent. Through the people they met along the way, and in some cases, helped toward a more rewarding life, they paint a picture of Cambodia that isn’t being told anywhere else. Most news agencies have all but forgotten the country…anyone with even a mild interest in Southeast Asia won’t be disappointed. This book is for anyone who wants to read of a culture and a history so foreign to our own. It’s also a book for anyone who likes to read about fascinating stories of challenge, and the strength of the human spirit.”—The News-Review; (Roseburg, Oregon;) “a portrait of the country that shows ‘the ravines of life between Cambodia’s bursts of news’ through the stories of individuals…shed[s] light on the experiences and impact of the Khmer Rouge genocide, the historical legacy of Angkor Wat, relations with neighboring countries, the psychological effects of war, current politics, internally displaced peoples, the status of women and children, health and ecology, and future prospects”—Reference and Research Book News.