The first full-length English-language account of Norodom Sihanouk, one of the most remarkable and controversial Asian leaders of the 20th century.
'I developed an interest in Cambodia, and Sihanouk, when I was posted to Phnom Penh in 1959. From the beginning I was fascinated by the prince, not least by his energy and his enormous charm. But I also became aware that there was a much darker side to his character.'
Sihanouk: Prince of light, prince of darkness is the first full-length English-language account of one of the most remarkable and controversial Asian leaders of the 20th century. This critical, unauthorised biography gives due credit to the achievements of Norodom Sihanouk but also looks behind the myths of his claims to have ruled a 'fairytale kingdom' that was an 'oasis of peace'.
In 1941 Norodom Sihanouk ascended the Cambodian throne, supported by the French with the intent that he be their puppet king. Milton Osborne traces the complex background leading to this event, and then follows Sihanouk's remarkable growth to political maturity: his transformation from dilettante king to a vigorous and sometimes ruthless politician. Fully acknowledging his remarkable energy, the book shows how the early years of Sihanouk's successes turned sour as, unwilling to share responsibility, he gradually alienated politicians on both the left and the right. Convinced that he alone knew what was best for Cambodia, his repression of dissent became more vicious and led finally to his overthrow in 1970. Then, while Pol Pot's tyranny gripped Cambodia, Sihanouk languished as a prisoner and an exile in Phnom Penh and Peking.
In the 1990s Norodom Sihanouk emerged from exile to take an increasingly active role in the new leadership of his country, culminating in 1993 with his ascension, once more, to the Cambodian throne.
The author of six previous books on Southeast Asian subjects, Milton Osborne was a consultant to the United Nations on the Cambodian refugee problem in the early 1980s and until 1993, was head of the Asia Branch of the Australian Office of National Assessments. He is now a full-time writer and consultant on Asian issues.
Table Of Contents:
1. All in one lifetime
2. Unexpected king
3. Marechal, nous voila
4. The return of the French
5. From the chrysalis, slowly
6. A madman of genius
7. A framework for power
8. Friends abroad, plots at home, 1956-59
9. The king is dead, long live the chief of state
10. Sihanouk's Cambodia: People, places and political philosophy
11. Sihanouk's Cambodia: Courts and courtiers
12. Sihanouk's Cambodia: Foreign friends and enemies
13. From hope...
14. ... to dangerous stagnation
15. Farce turns to tragedy
16. Exit a prince
17. From pawn...
18. ... to prisoner
19. Escape to exile
20. Return to centre stage, 1979-93
21. Prince of light, prince of darkness
Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin
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