A Look at the Khmer Rouge: Background information when reading In the Shadow of the Banyan

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In the Shadow of the Banyan

A Novel

by Vaddey Ratner

In the Shadow of the Banyan
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2012, 336 pages
    Jun 2013, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Beyond the Book:
A Look at the Khmer Rouge

Before the Khmer Rouge (pronounced ki-mer roouze, effectively translating as Red Cambodians) wreaked havoc all over Cambodia and killed approximately one quarter of the country's seven million people, they were mostly a fringe communist guerrilla group operating in the jungles in the north of the country. Early in the 70s, then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk was deposed in a coup and, to retain support, he decided to seek the Khmer Rouge's help. This one move granted the group legitimacy and soon the Khmer Rouge, under the leadership of Pol Pot, became fairly popular in the villages and then slowly made their way into the cities.

Pol Pot Pol Pot had grand plans - he decided that Cambodians didn't require education or religion. All the country needed was an agrarian model of society so everyone could eat and survive. This meant of course that many had to be forced into agriculture. The Khmer Rouge achieved this by displacing millions of Cambodians from cities and moving them into forced ...

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