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The name of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot evokes memories of utter horror, eerily reminiscent of the nightmare of the Holocaust and presaging other genocidal regimes that continue into the 21st century. Witnessing the rise of the Khmer Rouge from different perspectives, the four fictional narrators of Four Faces of Truth describe how Pol Pot and a handful of other Paris-educated young people dream of creating a communist utopia in Cambodia. Instead, this dream mutates into a nightmarish experiment where ordinary people become mass murderers and today’s executioner could become tomorrow’s victim. Everyone fears for his life, and no one can be trusted.
The intertwined paths of the narrators reflect the tragedy of political upheaval in Cambodia. These compelling truth-tellers are: a young man who leaves a Buddhist monastery to serve as an aide to General Lon Nol; a well-educated teenage girl who abandons a life of privilege to join the Khmer communist movement; a woman who studied medicine in China and treats Pol Pot’s wife for chronic paranoid schizophrenia; and a western archeologist who decries the damage done by the Khmer Rouge to Cambodia’s cultural heritage.
In lyrical language, accentuated by descriptions of music, poetry, mystical folk tales and rituals, Four Faces of Truth provides today’s readers with vivid descriptions of the old colonial city of Phnom Penh, the beauty of ancient Khmer temples, and the exotic majesty of Cambodia’s mountains, wild jungles, dangerous rapids, and amazingly diverse wild life.