"The man the world knew as Pol Pot headed one of the most enigmatic and terrifying regimes of modern times. An idealistic reclusive figure of great charisma and personal charm, he initiated a revolution whose radical egalitarianism exceeded any other in history. In the process, his country descended into madness and his name became a byword for sanguinary oppression. During the three-and-a-half years of Pol Pot's rule, more than a million people, a fifth of Cambodia's population, were executed or died from hunger and disease. A supposedly gentle, carefree land of slumbering temples and smiling peasants became a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which absolute obedience was enforced on the killing fields. Philip Short has spent four years travelling the length and breadth of Cambodia, interviewing surviving leaders of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge movement and sifting through previously closed archives from China, Russia and Vietnam, as swell as Cambodia itself. Here, the former Khmer Rouge Head of State, Pol's brother-in-law and scores of lesser figures speak for the first time at length about their beliefs and motives, as Philip Short traces Pol Pot's life from altruistic youth to become one of the twentieth century's most egregious political monsters. The horrors the Khmer Rouge perpetrated, and Pol Pot's dystopia, grew out of Cambodian history and culture, and the paranoia of a small, vulnerable country, squeezed between powerful neighbours. But China, France and, above all, the United States share moral responsibility. Cambodia's suffering is an object lesson in the perils of applying simplistic solutions to complicated problems."--Jacket.