The Bangkok plot

Luke Young

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When people think of Cambodian politics and history, they often focus on the Khmer Rouge, the Vietnam War (also known as the Second Indochina War) or even the United Nations peacekeeping mission of the early 1990s and subsequent elections. Not many link these more recent events to the policies and diplomatic relations of a newly independent Cambodia in the 1950s, emerging from a legacy of colonial control. In William J. Rust’s Eisenhower & Cambodia: Diplomacy, Covert Action, and the Origins of the Second Indochina War, new light is shed on an often convoluted segment of Cambodian history, describing detailed experiments in democracy, Cold War diplomatic manoeuvrings and a king obsessed with political power. Anyone interested in the complex and often violent birth pangs of post-World War Cambodia, its connection to the war in Vietnam and the rise of the Khmer Rouge will find Rust’s book of unparalleled appeal.

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