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The Lost Executioner
The Lost Executioner | Nic Dunlop
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In Cambodia, between 1975 and 1979, some two million people died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Twenty years later, not one member had been held accountable for the genocide. Haunted by an image of one of them, Comrade Duch, photographer Nic Dunlop set out to bring him to life, and thereby to account. "I needed to understand how a movement that laid claim to a vision of a better world could instead produce a revolution of unparalleled ferocity; how a seemingly ordinary man from one of the poorer parts of Cambodia could turn into one of the worst mass murderers of the twentieth century:" Weaving seamlessly between past and present, Dunlop unfolds the history of Cambodia as a lens through which to understand its tragic last forty years. He makes clear how much responsibility the United States must share, through failed political alliances and the illegal bombing of Cambodia, for the bloodshed that followed. Guided by witnesses, Dunlop teases out the details of Duch's transformation from sensitive schoolchild and dedicated teacher to the revolutionary killer who later slipped quietly back into village life. From the temples of Angkor to the prisons of Pol Pot's regime, to his unexpected meeting with Duch himself, Dunlop's special vision as a photographer enlarges our own. The Lost Executioner is a blend of history and testimony-and a reminder that, whether in the killing fields of Cambodia or the deserts of Darfur, if we turn our backs on genocide, we must bear a collective guilt.
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By far this has been one of the most moving books I have ever read. I feel embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of the terror the Khmer Rouge reign caused and this book did not hold back any details of the horrors during that time period. While it may seem it was a long time ago, the scars on the people in Cambodia will last several generations to come. I couldn't recommend this book more highly, but I definitely suggest keeping tissues close.

27 likes2 stack adds

"By percentage of population, the Cambodian Holocaust remains the worst to have occurred anywhere in the world, eclipsing the numbers in Nazi-occupied Europe and the Rwandan genocide put together."

This book has been so eye opening, educational and moving. I'm not yet finished and I know there are more tears to come.