Monarchical Manipulation in Cambodia: France, Japan, and the Sihanouk Crusade for Independence

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by Geoffrey C. Gunn

One figure especially strides across modern Cambodian history – Norodom Sihanouk. But this is not a biography of Sihanouk; the focus is upon the final decades of the French protectorate, the rise of a counter-elite and winning of Cambodia’s independence. Deeply embedded Khmer cultural conventions, the interplay of charismatic power and patronage, and manipulation of the 1,000-year-old monarchy are central to this book, as is indigenous resistance, Buddhist activism, French cultural creationism, radical republicanism, Thai recidivism and wartime Japanese machinations. The skill of the young Sihanouk in navigating between Vichy France, Japanese militarists, republican opportunists, armed rural insurgency and French proconsuls is brought to life by a range of new archival documentation – but so too how a country of such grace and natural bounty became associated with mass murder and genocide. The long political prelude as exposed in this book makes the now clichéd 'tragedy of Cambodian history’ much more comprehensible.

"Geoffrey Gunn, a seasoned observer of Southeast Asian politics and history, has written an absorbing and persuasive analysis of Cambodia’s colonial and post-colonial past, drawing on previously untapped archival sources. Monarchical Manipulation is a significant, insightful, and pleasing book.” – David Chandler, Monash University

Geoffrey Gunn is an emeritus professor at Nagasaki University. He is a widely written scholar in Asian history, most notably on the independence struggles in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. His works on Southeast Asia include Political Struggles in Laos, 1930–1954, Rebellion in Laos, and Rice Wars in Colonial Vietnam.

Publication year: 2018
521 pp / 229mm x 152mm
7 figures, 3 tables
ISBN: 978-87-7694-238-0, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-237-3, Hardback

NIAS Press