March 11th, 2007

I finished "Pol Pot" today.

I finished the Philip Short book "Pol Pot" today. This book claims to be a biography of Pol Pot, but because of the secretiveness of the Cambodian communist régime, it could better be described as a history of Cambodia told through the eyes of Pol Pot and his régime.

There are days when I wonder why I read books like this. When I read biographies, I like to read about people I respect, admire, aspire to be like and think achieved something. This book doesn't really cover any of these things and when I read it, I found myself reading it with growing incomprehension at how the communist régime could be that way.

That is the biggest problem with the book I think. The author explains that the acts they undertook could be explained by coupling Pot's understanding of what was going on in the country with the society he lived in (Cambodia has a very regimented society where you don't argue with those in charge -it's disrespectful). I found that a little too pat a piece of thinking to be believeable though, if I'm honest.

The other problem I had with the book is that it dragged. Short focused on getting all the facts in, rather than making the book flow. I know that this is a biography and you want to show the research you put in, but I think the author forgot that he was telling a story first and the facts need to slip seamlessly into that story.