Jungle Heart of the Khmer Rouge: The memoirs of Phi Phuon, Pol Pot’s Jarai aide-de-camp, and the role of Ratanakiri and its tribal minorities in the Cambodian revolution
by Henri Locard
The Khmer Rouge rise to power in 1975 gave birth to a terrifying new order marked by killings, forced ruralization and total collectivization. Up to two million people died as a result. The memoir of Phi Phuon, Pol Pot’s aide-de-camp/bodyguard – compiled and translated by Henri Locard with introduction, annotations, and background history and analysis – offers important new perspectives on the period. Though a relatively minor actor, Phi Phuon worked closely with the Khmer Rouge leadership. His quite candid account describes how an enterprising and idealistic young man was drawn to a revolutionary cause whose leadership he saw as patriotic, visionary and even charismatic. Moreover, Phi Phuon was Jarai, from one of the borderland hill tribes despised by many Khmer. Here, in the jungles of Ratanakiri Province as war in Vietnam raged nearby, Pol Pot and his urban, intellectual comrades mobilized the ethnic minorities into a revolutionary army. Inspired by idealized perceptions of hill-tribe lifestyles, the Khmer Rouge also developed radical plans for a civilizational blank slate that were implemented when they came to power. Shedding light on events not fully revealed before, this is a significant contribution to the study of recent Cambodian history.
Henri Locard is an historian with an engagement with Cambodia dating back to the early 1960s. He is a leading authority on the Khmer Rouge period and took part in the debates surrounding the renowned Black Book of Communism. Since 2000, after retiring from the Université Lumière - Lyon 2, he has lived and worked in Phnom Penh. Earlier a consultant to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, he is now a visiting professor at the Royal University of Phnom Penh lecturing in history.
Publication year: 2023
368 pp / 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-87-7694-325-7, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-324-0, Hardback