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$16.20 $12.06 list($18.00)
1. To Asia with Love: A Connoisseurs'
$62.70 $57.00 list($95.00)
2. Angkor: Celestial Temples of the
$12.23 $11.81 list($17.99)
3. Lonely Planet Cambodia (Lonely
$25.17 list($39.95)
4. Sanctuary: The Temples of Angkor
$11.87 $10.50 list($16.95)
5. The Rough Guide to Cambodia
$11.20 $10.40 list($16.00)
6. The Ends of the Earth : From Togo
$16.29 $15.93 list($23.95)
7. Insight Guide Laos & Cambodia
$19.95 $13.55
8. A Dragon Apparent: Travels in
$9.56 $3.99 list($11.95)
9. Swimming to Cambodia
10. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: A
$15.39 $14.62 list($21.99)
11. Lonely Planet Cycling Vietnam:
12. The Stones Cry Out: A Cambodian
$16.95 $10.81
13. The Treasures and Pleasures of
14. Vietnam - Laos - Cambodia Map
15. River of Time
$12.71 list($14.95)
16. Off the Rails in Phnom Penh: Into
$16.50 $12.99 list($25.00)
17. Cambodia (Topographics)
$8.06 $5.93 list($8.95)
18. Insight Compact Guide: Cambodia
$28.00 $0.95
19. I Have Seen the World Begin: Travels
$14.93 list($21.95)
20. Adventure Cambodia: An Explorer's

1. To Asia with Love: A Connoisseurs' Guide to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
by Kim Fay, Julie Fay
list price: $18.00
our price: $16.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0971594031
Catlog: Book (2004-07)
Publisher: Global Directions Inc/Things Asian Press
Sales Rank: 11701
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Book Description

Off the beaten path tips for adventuring, eating, shopping and sight seeing, from contributors who live, work, teach, write and travel there. Not your regular travel guidebook. Booking your trip, means how to find a boat to take you down the Mekong River, instead of where to get a cheap airline ticket. ne chapter lists opportunities for giving back to the countries you visit. ... Read more

2. Angkor: Celestial Temples of the Khmer
by Jon Ortner, Ian W. Mabbett, James Goodman, Ian Mabbett, Eleanor Mannikka, John Sanday
list price: $95.00
our price: $62.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0789207184
Catlog: Book (2002-12-01)
Publisher: Abbeville Press
Sales Rank: 44846
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An exquisitely illustrated history and exploration of Angkor, the world's most astonishing architectural treasure.

Built between the ninth and the thirteenth centuries by a succession of twelve Khmer kings, Angkor spreads over 120 square miles in Southeast Asia and includes scores of major architectural sites. In 802, when construction began on Angkor Wat, with wealth from rice and trade, Jayavarman ll took the throne, initiating an unparalleled period of artistic and architectural achievement, exemplified in the fabled ruins of Angkor, center of the ancient empire. Among the amazing pyramid and mandala shaped shrines preserved in the jungles of Cambodia, is Angkor Wat, the world's largest temple, an extraordinarily complex structure filled with iconographic detail and religious symbolism. Perhaps because of the decline of agricultural productivity and the expansion of the Thai Empire, Angkor was abandoned in the fifteenth century and left to the ravages of time. Today, many countries continue efforts to conserve and restore the temples, which have been inaccessible until recently. Now that the civil war has ended, Angkor is being reborn and is an increasingly popular tourist destination.

Undaunted by the difficulties of traveling through Cambodia and eastern Thailand, Jon Ortner, accompanied by his wife Martha, has photographed fifty of the most important and unique monuments of the Khmer Empire. His images include spectacular views from the rooftops of its temples, glorious landscapes, and details of inscriptions and art that few have ever seen.

The text by a team of distinguished experts provides historical, architectural, and religious analyses of Angkor and the Khmer civilization. The Appendix offers a glossary, a chronology of construction, and a chart of the kings and their accomplishments. Black-and-white floor plans and historic watercolors complete this breathtaking tribute.

Other details: 240 illustrations, 225 in full color ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have Book on Angkor Temples
Through his magical photographic eye, Jon Ortner has created a wondrous collection of striking images and scholarly prose. His perfectly lit photographs and well-documented historic descriptions allow one to easily understand this complicated ancient subject. Each temple is clearly organized into relevant sections from the central Angkor area to the rare and never-before-seen temples in the outer lying areas. If you have visited Angkor - Ortner's book is the perfect addition to your library. Or, if you have not visited, this book provides the perfect impetus.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Angkor Book
The magnificent photography, the amazing text and the great printing make this THE book for anyone interested in the amazing history and culture of the Khmer.

Ortner's use of light, his incredible attention to detail and the great writing make this a must view and a must read.

Even if you never had an interest or knowledge of Angkor, this book will light a fire inside you.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly. It will look great in your home and you will not regret this purchase.

5-0 out of 5 stars I have Jon Ortner book
ANGKOR: Celestial Temples of the Khmer Empire,

This is an excellent book I ordered online about when I first came out about a year ago. You will not go wrong with this book. Every pages I leafed through is highly insprirational. The photographs are very breath-takingly welldone. I like the chapter on the Preah Vihear(PV) temple. Again, nicely illustrated and photographed on PV. There's also a section on Cambodian temples that are in Thailand and Laos.

Athough the book is large--oversize, but worth its weight in gold on your bookself !

5-0 out of 5 stars Almost as magnificent as seeing the ruins themselves
Having spent some time recently in Cambodia exploring the Angkor ruins, I looked forward to purchasing this new picture book by celebrated photographer Jon Ortner. I was not disappointed. The photographs literally come alive. The quality of the paper is extremely good; the colour reproduction and sharpness of the pictures are superb.

The author chose a broad selection of the ruins to be included in his coffee table size text. All the famous sites are included, as well as a number of the lesser known monuments. The essays written by experts in the field also added a lot of useful and interesting background information. Several maps also aid the reader in locating the ruins.

For those who have seen Angkor, this book is almost a must. I am certain the owner will refer to these awesome photographs time and time again to remind himself of the experience of viewing some of the most incredible architecture and art in the history of mankind.

5-0 out of 5 stars See it in person if you can.
Top quality photographs of one of the true wonders of the world in one of the few remaining truly exotic countries. The craftsmanship and presentation are top notch, but nothing short of making the trip in person is really satisfactory. Fortunately, the trip is relatively safe in these days when even domestic travel has its risks. ... Read more

3. Lonely Planet Cambodia (Lonely Planet Cambodia)
by Nick Ray
list price: $17.99
our price: $12.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1740591119
Catlog: Book (2002-08-01)
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Sales Rank: 11103
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Go your own way in Cambodia with the most extensive guide to the kingdom: discover awe-inspiring temples, explore remote mountainous regions, laze on tranquil beaches or live it up in cosmopolitan Phnom Penh.

  • 57 detailed maps and temple plans
  • new, expanded coverage of the remote northern and eastern provinces
  • food and accommodation suggestions for every budget
  • includes Khmer script and invaluable language chapter
... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Maps and diagrams are outstanding.
Lonely Planet Guides are always the best sources of info for pre-trip planning and to take along, but the Cambodia LPG has an added feature that really impressed me, and that is the maps and diagrams of the temples and temple complexes, and the great details in the descriptions that go with them. I'm absolutely delighted to have this information to help me plan my photo sessions. In addition, LP has a service on their website where you can get updates to a guide between old and new publications. Also try the Thorntree feature to get questions answered or to contribute info for others. Lonely Planet has done it again. Best guidebooks and best services for travelers. Thanks LP!

5-0 out of 5 stars Must Have For Cambodia Trip
I decided to be a little different when I went to Southeast Asia. Instead of taking the Lonely Planet Books which I had done to past trips to China, and England I went with the Rough Guide. What a mistake. Such a mistake that about 1/2 through the trip, somewhere in Thailand I think, I threw the book out and picked up LP guides to Vietnam and Cambodia.

The Cambodia book is great. Great information, easy to follow guides to Angkor what else could you need. LP really tells it as it is. Cambodia is a place changing everyday. Fortunately for the last year or two its been relatively calm and tourist friendly. How long this will last is anyone's guess. I hope stablity have finally come to this country with such a tragic history.

Angkor is a unbelievable place and the LP book will get you through it and teach you a lot.

Get this book before you go!

4-0 out of 5 stars Bring this to Cambodia
This is the book I took to Cambodia. For me the important thing was that it had the phone numbers of the various guest houses and hotels. Only 4 stars because Anything other than Phnom Penh and Angkor was given skimpy coverage.

5-0 out of 5 stars You must have if travelling to Cambodia!!! Essential book!!!
Very practical and quite a useful book to have when travelling to Cambodia. I found it useful myself too with information regarding Cambodian history, past, present and maybe the future of the country's outcome having came out of the shadows of the Killing Fields. The book covers everything you need to know about travelling to Cambodia. The best place to eat and what are the popular sites to visit... in Phnom Penh and the famous jungle ruins of Angkor. This 3rd edition contains wonderful photos of the Khmer people in many aspects... Even though the country had been ravaged by war yet their souls are still proud like before much like their ancestors who built a wonderful civilization that ruled mainland Indo-China. Also there is a page for those who want to learn basic Khmer which is easy and enjoyable...

Now that Cambodia is opening up the outside world the book gets a little bit thicker which I find is interesting since now there are many areas to visit in Cambodia like the hill tribes living in east of Cambodia and also the temple of Preah Vihear in the north of Cambodia which sits on the Dangrek mountain range overlooking Thailand. Great book to have and I hope soon in the next edition more information will be added. Don't travel to Cambodia without one!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars A practical, invaluable guide
Nick Ray's Cambodia is a practical, invaluable guide for commercial or recreational travelers wanting to explore the sights and wonders of this exotic land. From the majesty of Angkor, to Phnom Penh nightlife, to the wild and remote Cambodian countryside, this reliable, detailed, and authoritative travel guide offers 30 "user friendly" maps; up-to-date health and security information; vital transport details (including river trips and overland travel); special features on the temples of Angkor; a useful chapter on the Khmer language; and much, much more. If you are planning a trip to Cambodia, begin with a thorough reading of Nick Ray's Cambodia! ... Read more

4. Sanctuary: The Temples of Angkor
by Steve McCurry
list price: $39.95
our price: $25.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0714841757
Catlog: Book (2002-06-05)
Publisher: Phaidon Press
Sales Rank: 30188
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Magnum photographer Steve McCurry has beautifully and evocatively photographed the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, among the world's most impressive monuments. Over one hundred of his images of the site are collected in this stunning book, which documents a magical world of carved gods, weathered masonry, tangled vegetation and orange-robed monks. Angkor was the capital of the Khmer rulers from the end of the ninth century until the mid-fifteenth. Each built a state temple at the capital, surrounded by walls, moats and embankments laid out in accordance with cosmological precepts. Designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the temples attract tourists, archaeologists and art historians, and are also a pilgrimage destination for Buddhist monks. McCurry first visited Angkor on assignment for National Geographic magazine, for whom he has photographed all over the world. He has made many return visits, capturing a sublime portrait of the buildings, sculpture and people of Angkor. Winner of numerous

honours, including first prize in the World Press awards and the Robert Capa Gold Medal, McCurry has previously published Portraits and South Southeast (both with Phaidon).

The photographs are accompanied by an informative introduction on the history and meaning of Angkor by John Guy, a leading authority on the cultural history of Southeast Asia. Guy is curator of Indian and Southeast Asian sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Consultant to UNESCO on historical monuments in Southeast Asia. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars an excellent photographic work
Sactuary,the Temples of Angkor is an excellent photographic book. Steve McCurry has captured the most breathtaking shots of Angkor Wat and many other great pictures surounding the Angkor site. I really like the book and earlier this year i have added this book to my collection. In addition i like to point out a little mistake of this book particularly not by Steve McCurry himself but rather by the author of the introduction of the book. Mr. John Guy. As he writes 'Nak Pa',it is the belief of ancestral worship the local Khmer people practiced before Angkor era and still do today. This pratice is recognised today in Cambodia as 'Nak Ta' not 'Nak Pa'. So instead of 'Pa' is 'Ta'. 'Ta' is a word in Khmer also used to address your father's father which is your granfather. The word 'Nak' means a 'person'. So 'Nak-ta' clearly means an ancestor person, its a combination of the two words Nak and Ta. The word 'Pa' has no meaning in Khmer. However 'Pa' is used from the colonial period to call a father. It is usually used by high class people when french is introduced to Cambodia, mainly the ones who worked for the government. So clearly it is an European word for father. The word for father in Khmer is something else. But otherwise it is a fantastic book to buy for displaying on your coffee table as part of your collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars mr. hyamdara
Sactuary,the Temples of Angkor is an excellent photographic book. Steve McCurry has captured the most breathtaking shots of Angkor Wat and many other great pictures surounding the Angkor site. I really like the book and earlier this year i have added this book to my collection. In addition i like to point out a little mistake of this book particularly not by Steve McCurry himself but rather by the author of the introduction of the book. Mr. John Guy. As he writes 'Nak Pa',it is the belief of ancestral worship the local Khmer people practiced before Angkor era and still do today. This pratice is recognised today in Cambodia as 'Nak Ta' not 'Nak Pa'. So instead of 'Pa' is 'Ta'. 'Ta' is a word in Khmer also used to address your father's father which is your granfather. The word 'Nak' means a 'person'. So 'Nak-ta' clearly means an ancestor person, its a combination of the two words Nak and Ta. The word 'Pa' has no meaning in Khmer. However 'Pa' is used from the colonial period to call a father. It is usually used by high class people when french is introduced to Cambodia, mainly the ones who worked for the government. So clearly it is an European word for father. The word for father in Khmer is something else. But otherwise it is a fantastic book to buy for displaying on your coffee table as part of your collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
Steve McCurry has a deep and abiding respect for his subjects and this book reflects the passion he has for peoples around the world.
WELL DONE, Mr. McCurry!

4-0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking shots from a master photographer
Having recently returned from a trip to southeast Asia, and having the once in a life time opportunity to explore the Angkor ruins near Siem Reap, Steve McCurry's magnificent photos brought back immediately the intense experiences I had from my short visit. The reader will be amazed at some of these images and like me will ask, "how on earth did he pull off a shot like that?" Unlike other books on Angkor, the photographer focuses mostly on the people, in particular the monks and nuns, who reside near these beautiful ruins. I found the quality of the paper and the picture reproduction excellent. The only drawback is the small format of the book, and the lack of explanations of the photos. This is a must book for those who enjoy looking at beautiful photographs, or for those interested in southeast Asia.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Preparing for a trip to Thailand and Cambodia I purchased many books related to these places. "Sanctuary..." fortunately arrived only after I had returned from my trip. Some of the books I own have excellent pictures and great text, but Steve McCurry's Sanctuary, with its great and mundane, realistic photographies made me feel back in Angkor. Angkor is one of the most beautiful places on earth and this book is the closer you can get if you don't have the chance to make it there. ... Read more

5. The Rough Guide to Cambodia
by Beverley Palmer
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1858288371
Catlog: Book (2002-08-01)
Publisher: Rough Guides Limited
Sales Rank: 106992
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

INTRODUCTIONThough much less visited than neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam or Laos, Cambodia is fast establishing itself on the Southeast Asian tourist trail. The stunning temples of Angkor are the obvious draw for most visitors, but the country has much else to offer: a smattering of golden undeveloped beaches, unspoilt forests, a balmy climate, and a relaxed atmosphere that’s refreshingly low on hassle.

For a small country, Cambodia encompasses a surprisingly diverse range of terrain and scenery. Rice fields are the most quintessential feature of this predominantly agricultural land, with the country’s rice bowl in the northwest. The annual monsoon brings rains that not only feed rice production, but also replenish the Tonle Sap lake, a massive body of fresh water that dominates the heart of the country; east of here, the mighty Mekong River forms a natural divide between an arid, sparsely populated sector of land to the west, and the mountainous, heavily forested far northeast. The southwest is likewise hilly and remains covered in jungle, while parts of the southeast are regularly inundated as the Mekong and its sister river, the Bassac, spill their banks.

For all its natural beauty and rich heritage, Cambodia has suffered a tragic recent past at the hands of the fanatical Khmer Rouge movement; the population had to endure first genocide, when the Khmer Rouge were in power in the 1970s, then a protracted guerrilla war which only ended in 1998. The whole of the country is now finally at peace, though the lack of infrastructure and skills is sorely evident, in the potholed streets, the damaged buildings and the sometimes truly appalling roads. With much to be done before the country is properly back on its feet, Cambodia remains heavily reliant on international aid, and it’ll be a while yet before most of the population see a tangible improvement in their standard of living. There are positive signs, though: thronging markets are testimony to renewed private enterprise, and in Phnom Penh at least, a modest middle class has re-emerged. This recovery is in no small way down to one of the country’s greatest assets, the Cambodians themselves, eternally optimistic, tenacious and, to visitors, endlessly welcoming.

Despite the dereliction of the Khmer Rouge years, visitors need not in any way feel like they’re venturing into a war zone. The country offers a decent range of places to stay, and Cambodian food, influenced by the cuisines of both China and Thailand, surprises the uninitiated with its depth and piquancy. Cambodian crafts make for intriguing mementoes, and the appearance of numerous craft shops is evidence of the revival in traditional artisanship. The majority of the country’s towns still retain some old-world charm, and the gentility of the former French times can still be glimpsed in the quaint shophouse terraces and colonial architecture – though the most tangible legacy of French rule is the piles of crusty baguettes heaped up in baskets and hawked around the streets in the early morning. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Guide Book.
I used this book while traveling through Cambodia this past summer. It was very helpful and has all the information one might need. I also like the format more than LP. I thought it was a bit easier to read.

One down side to the book were the prices it listed. Almost everything was cheaper than quoted. (This of course made me a happy traveler) I guess this isnt the books fault though.

The sections on Siem Reap & the temples at Ankor were good enough. However, it is really worth it to pick up one of the special temple guide books available at the market in town. They cost between $1-2 depending on how well you bargain. ... Read more

6. The Ends of the Earth : From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers ofAnarchy (Vintage Departures)
list price: $16.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679751238
Catlog: Book (1997-01-28)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 51436
Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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"The future here could be sadder than the present," writes Robert Kaplan in a chapter about the African nation of Sierra Leone. From Kaplan's perspective, the same could be said of virtually the entire Third World, which he spends the bulk of this book visiting and describing. Kaplan, an acclaimed foreign correspondent and author of Balkan Ghosts, is congenitally pessimistic about the developmental prospects of West Africa, the Nile Valley, and much of Asia. This traveler's tale offers dire warnings about overpopulation, environmental degradation, and social chaos. We should all hope that Kaplan's forecast is wrong, but we ignore him at our peril. ... Read more

Reviews (49)

5-0 out of 5 stars gloriously and sublimely depressing
I was introduced to Robert Kaplan's work through his articles for Atlantic Monthly. His analysis of the world stage is so insightful and realistic it makes most of the other things I've read in the area seem like Fairy Tales and Demagoguery. In a previous book he successfully foretold the crisis in the Balkans, in this book he brings his pen and his observational acumen to the edge of civilization.

This book is essentially a travel journal; Mr. Kaplan joins up with backpackers, gets hassled at borders, gets overcharged for train tickets. Fortunately for the reader, Mr. Kaplan's travels have the singular, though somewhat opaque purpose of divining the state of the societies in which he travels. The things observed, though interesting in their own right, are weaved by Mr. Kaplan into a roughly hewn picture of the cultures in which he travels. Things as simple as the look in the eye of a street urchin or the way in which a woman covers her head contribute to this picture in invaluable ways.

Kaplan's assessments are, on the whole, fairly pessimistic and he is skeptical about the efficacy of foreign assistance. One of Kaplan's overarching themes is that many of the dynamics that are at work in these places are nearly impossible to disarm from the outside, and that attempts to do so often cause more harm than good.

There is a tinge of fatalism in the accounts of many regions, West Africa, for one. But Kaplan does leave his readers with a mere series of plaintive elegies. His reification of the mechanics of chaotic polity offer many constructive lessons on how to offer modest assistance, and more important, how to avoid exacerbating these situations through well-intentioned meddling.

My understanding of the volatile regions of our world was greatly improved by this book. For that reason alone, I recommend it to all readers.

3-0 out of 5 stars A very worthy effort, but...
Don't buy this book thinking it's merely a travelogue of some of the world's poorer and lesser-known nations. (In fact, if that's all you're looking for, then I highly recommend Pico Iyer's Falling off the Map instead.) No, it's a cleverly disguised sociopolitical analysis, but unlike most such works, it's refreshing in that Kaplan freely admits his observations are subjective and possibly wrong. But that's exactly the problem. Despite physically travelling to all these destinations, Kaplan seems to spend precious little time actually TALKING with real citizenry in most places. Instead he whisks from Western hotels in the capital to meetings with various pols and officials before scuttling off to the next country, sometimes just days later. And therein lies the failure of an otherwise worthy effort from an outstanding writer: the superficiality of most of his experiences in these places. Give him a few days in a country, coupled with a bit of background reading and perhaps a few conversations with experts at home, and Kaplan feels justified in making sweeping generalizations about where these nations have been, and where they are going. Had Kaplan just stopped country-hopping and stayed in one region for a longer time, I think his conclusions would have been much improved. A side note: having travelled to a number of these countries (as one of the "backpackers" that Kaplan scornfully derides throughout the book), his constant dramatizing of the mundane grows tedious after a while...I think the only person surprised that the third world can be dirty, smelly, and unpredictable is Kaplan himself.

1-0 out of 5 stars a journalistic fraud
I bought this book for its rave reviews and thought I would learn something from it. When reading his chapters about Iran, I was quite disappointed to see that Kaplan does little more than to be taken around by his handlers to those they wished him to see and talk to. Furthermore, he does even less than a newcomer to the field would do; he does not even provide context or background. One of his primary interview subject is Mohsen Rafighdoost who stole so much that even his own backers could not tolerate him. Kaplan is also historically inaccurate and downright deceptive. He characterizes the Zoroastrian religion as pagan. He either does not know or he does this maliciously. This oldest monotheistic religion has been studied and discussed about so much that ignorance would not be a good enough excuse for its mischaracterization. Last, but not least, Kaplan borrows long paragraphs and essays from other authors about Iran where he thinks his stereotyping of the people needs backing. He does that without context and is patently fraudulent. For one, I have read "the garden of the brave in war" and where he borrows from that book, is arguably opposite to the intent of the author.
If this had been a "pay for purpose" work I would understand its content, but as a proposed "independent work of authorship" I believe it is no more than a waste of time and money.

5-0 out of 5 stars Uncovering the new threats of the 21st century
Robert Kaplan sought to achieve a rather ambitious aim when he set out to research and write this book; he wanted to find a new paradigm to understand the early decades of the 21st century. Kaplan noted that some experts focused on the effects of overpopulation and environmental degradation as the dominant forces (particularly in the developing world), while others spoke of a "new anarchy" (such as former UN secretary-general Perez de Cuellar, he and others noting that of the eighty wars between 1945 and 1995, forty-six were either civil wars or guerilla insurgencies). In 1993, forty-two countries were involved in major conflicts and thirty-seven others were suffering some lesser form of political violence (sixty-five of these seventy-nine nations were in the developing world). Kaplan journeyed through sub-Saharan West Africa from Guinea to Togo and through Egypt, Turkey, Iran, former Soviet Central Asia, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia in his research for the book.

He found a predictably bleak situation in Africa. While 13 percent of the human race lives in Africa, they contribute only 1.2 percent of the world's gross domestic product. Crime - particularly violent crime - is soaring in much of Africa; for a time the United States suspended direct flights from the U.S. to Lagos, Nigeria due to the rampant violent crime at the terminal and nearby, the first time any such embargo had occurred for non-political and non-terrorist reasons. Soaring malaria in Africa is intensifying the spread of AIDS (as malaria can result in anemia, which requires blood transfusions), just as AIDS and tuberculosis are helping each other's spread.

As bad as the economy, crime, and disease in Africa are though, Kaplan believes the real problem in sub-Saharan Africa is too-rapid urbanization, a problem he comes to again and again in the book. Festering "bush-slums" that appear on few maps border many African cities, where relatively prosperous cities end up being "slum-magnets for an emptying countryside." He visited several such slums in Ivory Coast and elsewhere in West Africa, many packed with migrants from Mali, Niger, and elsewhere (50% of the population of the Ivory Coast is now non-Ivorian). The native forest culture of Africa, however primitive, was being destroyed by soaring birthrates, alcohol, cheap guns, and extremely dense concentrations of humanity in slums that lacked any stabilizing and unifying government or culture. Though he does not believe this to be the only factor in the bloody conflicts in Liberia and elsewhere, he does believe it to be a dominant one.

Though not leading to the level of social breakdown as seen in Africa, rapidly growing cities - packed with peasants drawn in from the countryside - was a dominant feature in other nations he found as well. China, while touted at the time of writing as having a 14 per cent growth rate, really meant that coastal China was growing; this growth did not apply to inland China (and also could be said to favor the cities and not the countryside), leading to a mass migration from the countryside. Migration to shantytowns in Pakistan is tremendous, owing in large part to a skyrocketing population rate (only 9 percent of Pakistani women use contraceptives and the population of Pakistan is close to doubling every twenty years), a situation leading to empty villages and a poorly urbanized peasantry that cities are unable to cope with.

Kaplan found similar problems in Egypt, where urban poverty and newly urbanized peasants, threatened with the loss of traditions, the government unable to help them, with basic services like water and electricity breaking down, having found something to turn to; Islam. Islam is thriving in a time of unregulated urbanization and internal and external refugee migrations. With increasingly militant Islamic Egyptians turning against Christian Arabs (both Coptic Christians, who like the Lebanese Kaplan met in West Africa and the Korean grocers of South Los Angeles, formed a "middlemen minority" in Egypt, as well as the Christian leaders like UN secretary-general Boutros-Ghali who failed to aid Bosnian Muslims) and turning to the Ikhwan el Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood) for social services instead of an increasingly overburdened state, Kaplan sees scarcity and woes of the urbanized peasantry of the shantytowns as the driving force in many ways in Egypt.

The growing marriage of Islam and urbanized peasantry was not unique to Egypt. To a somewhat lesser extent Kaplan found a similar process on-going in Turkey, as the Turkish migrants to the gecekondus (literally "built in the night;" shanty-town houses) on the fringes of Istanbul found more aid from the Islamic Welfare Party in the form of water, coal, and food than from the Turkish government itself. In some areas of western China such as Kashgar, overcrowding, unemployment, and the lack of any real middle class was leading to a Muslim resurgence there among non-ethnic Chinese.

So what did Kaplan learn from his travels? He was quite frustrated, and found that the more he traveled the less he felt he knew. Kaplan did grow disgusted with the idea of political "science," paraphrasing Tolstoy in _Anna Karenina_ in writing that while successful cultures are in many ways alike, unsuccessful ones fail each in their own way. He did come to the conclusion that nation-states at least in West Africa, the Near East, and Central Asia were weakening. In some cases organizations and entities outside or beyond the state - such as the various Islamic groups in Egypt and Turkey - were starting to fill in the vacuum, while in other, failed states such as Sierra Leone, nothing was taking its place. Borders in some regions, the legacy of long-gone European imperial powers, were becoming less and less important. Laos and Cambodia were in some sense creations of the French, areas that might have long been swallowed by the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai and were now being divided up economically if not politically by these countries. I think his firmest conclusion though was that poorly and newly urbanized rural poor flocking to the cities represented the greatest challenge.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Provocative Travelogue
Kaplan presents more than a travelogue of some of the most inaccessible places in the world, he also makes a compelling case about why these forgotten pockets need to be of more than passing concern to citizens of developed countries. While the author's characterization of these "frontiers of anarchy" is provocative, his arguments cannot be ignored.

This book's first third, which focuses on West Africa, can be profitably read alongside an in-depth study like LIBERIA: PORTRAIT OF A FAILED STATE by John Peter Pham, published by Reed Press, which gives a detailed analysis of the strategic importance that Kaplan ascribes to regional conflicts. ... Read more

7. Insight Guide Laos & Cambodia (Insight Guides)
by Clare Griffiths
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9814120421
Catlog: Book (2003-12-01)
Publisher: Insight Guides
Sales Rank: 353784
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The photographs in this guide are stellar and the writing is clear and strong. I found every necessary detail needed for planning my trip in this book and learned a great deal about the culture before embarking on my travels. Wonderfully done!

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful....
Insight Guides are useful as both travel guides and picture books.The info is short but concise and the wonderful color pics give you a really nice idea about what the destination spot looks like ( or looked like,as the books are also good for memory/photo albums). This volume is very useful for the traveler to the little known countries of Laos and Cambodia as it covers all areas of both countries and not just the big cities and main attractions. I especially found the info on coastal Cambodia interesting as it's hard to find detail on this beautiful place in other travel books. A must for the Asia traveler.... ... Read more

8. A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam
by Norman Lewis
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 090787133X
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: Eland
Sales Rank: 165715
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9. Swimming to Cambodia
by Spalding Gray
list price: $11.95
our price: $9.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 093045250X
Catlog: Book (1985-12-01)
Publisher: Theatre Communications Group
Sales Rank: 167091
Average Customer Review: 4.07 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story as told by a madman.
This movie is simply amazing. Spalding Gray sits behind a small wooden desk with a glass of water and talks. Sounds simple right? Well you just have to experience his twisted perception of reality to understand. After this, you'll want to seek out every monologue he's done, as I have.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Intensive
Yes, it is a documentary and, yes, it is a monologue. Yes, he discusses the sex trade in Cambodia which is extemely explicit. But this is about Cambodia. This is about the Killing Fields. This is about our involvement in that history. There is nothing gratuitous. Gray is captivating as he sits on a darkened stage with his words and topics accented with strategic lighting, maps, sounds and video clips. You will leave this film with a new understanding of what happened from Cambodia to Kent State. He also has a unique insight into mankind. In this, his "Talking Cure", you will be compelled to try to answer the question that he wrestles with - 'Is morality a moving feast?'. This is an important film.

2-0 out of 5 stars Spalding, where are you??
The recent disappearance of Spalding Gray has made me realize what I don't like about this film: its narcissism. It's Gray's defining characteristic. After a while, despite Jonathan Demme's fabulous direction (he makes the best of a limited repertoire) it just gets boring.

3-0 out of 5 stars Another masterpice decimated by 'full screen'.
One of the most innovative, exciting movies of a generation, and NOT AVAILABLE in widescreen.

Demi is a cinamatograhic master and his work has been butchered by VHS full screen format. ('Full' of what, one wonders.)

Watch this tape and see half the movie as created. DEMAND your DVD release now.

2-0 out of 5 stars I am sure this is very funny live onstage...
I have read a few of Spalding Gray's books, and I found them hysterically funny. So a while back I decided to work my way through all of his books. All his books have been bought and are on my shelf, so I hope this one is just one of those bad apples..

Don't get me wrong, Spalding is a very, very funny guy. And the other books I have read ("Sex and death to the Age 14" and "Morning, Noon and Night") are just fantastic books. They made me laugh out loud over and over and over again.

This one however.. Not quite... It is more a "transcript" of his stage performances. You can tell that this would be hysterically funny onstage, but reading it on an overcrowded tube on my way to work was maybe not the best setting, and probably didn't give this material justice.

Anyway, I think these stories are better left for live performances. ... Read more

10. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: A Travel Survival Kit (Lonely Planet Vietnam)
by Joe Cummings, Daniel Robinson
list price: $15.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0864420986
Catlog: Book (1991-02)
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Sales Rank: 2009915
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11. Lonely Planet Cycling Vietnam: Laos & Cambodia (Lonely Planet Cycling Guides)
by Nick Ray, Ian Duckworth
list price: $21.99
our price: $15.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1864501685
Catlog: Book (2001-08)
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Sales Rank: 84823
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Book Description

Discover Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia by bike – explore the best of Vietnam's coastline, stay with hill tribes in Laos and ride around Cambodia's ancient city of Angkor. Choose from 21 rides, ranging from sightseeing day trips to multi-day tours.

  • 70 days of the region’s best cycling
  • Angkor Temples – detailed routes guide and planning advice
  • where to eat – markets, noodle cafes and traditional cuisine
  • where to stay, for cyclist on every budget
  • maintenance tips, plus where to find the local bike repairer
  • language guide to Vietnamese, Lao and Khmer
... Read more

12. The Stones Cry Out: A Cambodian Childhood, 1975-1980
by Molyda Szymusiak, Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Molyda Szymusiak
list price: $11.58
our price: $11.58
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 025321291X
Catlog: Book (1999-04-01)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Sales Rank: 121704
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"The Stones Cry Out is startlingly good as literature. It is also an important addition to a thin historical record. . . . Her account of the revolutionary rhetoric, set against the reality of what the revolutionaries were actually doing, is as macabre as any of the descriptions of bodies."--The Wall Street Journal

"This is a powerful and compelling story of terror, struggle and death sprinkled with moments of tenderness, written by a woman who writes not of politics but only of what she experienced."--New York Times Book Review

In 1975, Molyda Szymusiak (her adoptive name), the daughter of a high Cambodian official, was twelve years old and leading a relatively peaceful life in Phnom Penh. Suddenly, on April 17, Khmer Rouge radicals seized the capital and drove all its inhabitants into the countryside. The chaos that followed has been widely publicized, most notably in the movie The Killing Fields. Murderous brutality coupled with raging famine caused the death of more than two million people, nearly a third of the population. This powerful memoir documents the horror Cambodians experienced in daily life. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Chilling and moving
My heart sank lower and lower with each successive chapter. This is certainly not a book one can read while couching comfortably on a sofa. If you are familiar with Cambodian history of the Khmer Rouge regime, this book is indeed a chilling read. But at the same time, one can't help feeling admiration for the author's fortitide in the face of unimaginable hardship and horror.

4-0 out of 5 stars A child's account of her family's struggle to survive.
One of the earliest (1986) accounts from the survivors of the Pol Pot regime, "The Stones Cry Out" seems to have set the style and standard for another more recent child's-eye perspective on the same era, "When Broken Glass Floats". The minute details of everyday life, not abstract poltical assessments, form the basis for our childhood memories. The author's account carries an unvarnished realism which draws the reader into her film-like image of daily life under threat of starvation and execution. This is probably as close as a reader can come to the truth of events in Cambodia during 1975-79. Oral histories such as "The Stones Cry Out" are perhaps the best way for survivors of human rights abuses to indict the perpetrators. Sadly, tribunals driven by international politics are unlikely to have the same impact as the simple testimony of a victimized child. Highly recommended reading for all those with an interest in human rights, Cambodia, and Southeast Asian culture.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sobering look at man's inhumanity to man.
Actualy I would rate this 4 and 1/2 stars.

Having read "First they killed my father" by Loung Ung It would be difficult for me to review this book with out comparing it to Loung Ung's memoir.

Both are essentially the same story, a young upper middle class girl living in Phnom Phen in april of 1975 when thier life, family and happiness are torn from them by the khmer rouge.

Many of thier experinces are similar as you might expect (long hours in forced labor, family deaths, witnessing murder ect..) but each has a unique story of thier own.

The writing styles also vary greatly and this is where Loung's "First they killed my Father is the better" book. Molyda tells her story in a very straight foward manner. Her discriptions of murder, torture and rotting corpses are alomost clinical in tone as if she is afaid to visit or express her real feelings at the time (and who could realy blame her) we are giving only hints about her family and life before April 17th 1975 (to be fair this may be in part to spare distant family members still in Cambodia from retalation)

In Loung's book however we are treated to two light hearted chapters discribing her life in Phnom Pehn before April 17th 1975 this gives the reader a chance to feel they realy know her, her brother's, sisters and parents thier strengths and weakness'.

Loung's memoir is far more emotional in tone and feeling leaving the reader almost gasping for air at points.

For those overly squimish that makes "The Stones Cry Out" the better of the two books. It is also the better of the two books if your sole interest is the surrounding history of the killing fields.

But for those just wishing to read a great emotional book "first They killed My father" is the better choice but I would highly recomend both to all.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is an amazing though heart-wrenching book
I am a 12 year old reader, and this book was heart-breaking. It is so sad that something like this hapenned, and so many peoples' lives were destroyed. Molyda Szymusiak's story makes me realize how lucky I am to enjoy my freedoms.

5-0 out of 5 stars Every human being should read this book!
This is one of those books, once you start reading you can't stop. I can't even describe the horror and atrocity the Cambodian people had to endure under the Khmer Rouge, but Molyda's book is heart breaking because the story is told from the child's viewpoint. This is a wonderful book describing an event that should never have happened. Hopefully after reading this book, people will never let genocide and a holocaust exist ever again on this earth! ... Read more

13. The Treasures and Pleasures of Vietnam and Cambodia: Best of the Best in Travel and Shopping (Impact Guides)
by Ronald L. Krannich, Caryl Rae Krannich
list price: $16.95
our price: $16.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1570231567
Catlog: Book (2002-02)
Publisher: Impact Publications
Sales Rank: 98049
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Vietnam is not a war nor is it a difficult travel destination. Welcome to the new Vietnam and one of the world's hottest travel destinations. Vietnam is a pleasant surprise to most visitors who quickly discover its wonderful shopping, dining, sightseeing, and accommodations, and especially its many friendly, charming, and talented people.

Here's the first guidebook to examine the many travel pleasures and shopping treasures found in Vietnam, with special emphasis on Hanoi, Danang/Hoi An, and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Covers everything from Vietnam's top art galleries and markets to tailoring, handicrafts, and pirated goods (from China). Includes shopping strategies and bargaining tips as well as advice on avoiding problems, selecting quality products, and shipping purchases home with ease. Covers pre-trip planning, local travel alternatives, and the best restaurants, accommodations, sightseeing, and entertainment.

Includes a special chapter on visiting neighboring Cambodia – Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat). ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Adventure-of-a-lifetime guidelines for smart traveling
The Treasures And Pleasures Of Vietnam And Cambodia: Best Of The Best In Travel And Shopping is an amazing, "user friendly" touring, travel, and shopping guide. Individual chapters focus upon the marvels of Vietnamese and Cambodian cities, as well as adventure-of-a-lifetime guidelines for smart traveling and shopping. Filled with sensible advice, maps, addresses, tips, great places to go and an easy index, The Treasures and Pleasures of Vietnam and Cambodia covers everything short of being a primer in the native language. Highly recommended for anyone planning a trip to these exotic and beautiful lands, The Treasures And Pleasures Of Vietnam And Cambodia is a "must" for getting the most out of a business or vacation trip to these exotic lands. ... Read more

14. Vietnam - Laos - Cambodia Map
by Cartographia
list price: $9.95
our price: $9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9633529182
Catlog: Book (2001-01-01)
Publisher: Cartographia Kft
Sales Rank: 830748
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Book Description

Excellent travel map of the countries and substantial portions of their neighbors is printed on one side; with city maps of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Vientiane; regional map. Mountainous areas in shaded relief; lowlands in green tint. Reverse side contains index of place names.

Distinguishes roads of all types, from international roads to unsurfaced roads and tracks. Also: airports, railways, shipping lines; mountains, coral reefs, waterfalls, forests, rice fields, littoral sandbanks; places of touristic interest; scenic views; ruins, castles, pagodas, and temples; caves; beaches; hotels; museums; hospitals.

Scale 1:2,000,000. Distances in kilometers and miles. ... Read more

15. River of Time
by Jon Swain
list price: $22.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312169892
Catlog: Book (1997-10-01)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Sales Rank: 527237
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The unforgettable memoir from the writer immortalized in the Academy Award-winning film The Killing Fields.

"[A] splendid memoir...a tale, at once tragic and beautiful, of love and loss, of coming of age and of witnessing the end of Indochina as the West had known it for more than a century."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"The English have always seemed peculiarly prone to living adventurous lives, and here's Jon Swain to prove it. Raised in India, Swain joined the French Foreign Legion at 17 and was a foreign correspondent for Agence France-Presse by his early twenties. His first assignment in 1970: Indochina. Swain spent five years there, had a long love affair with the woman commonly thought to be the most beautiful in Saigon, was fired upon numerous times, was working in Phnom Penh when it fell to the Khmer Rouge, had a pistol held to his head by a pissed-off teenage guerrilla, and lived to write River of Time, as thrilling--and disturbing--a memoir as I've read in years."--Men's Journal

"Swain's book pulses with life and death...beautifully written."--Providence Sunday Journal

"Arresting...the author details his unusual experiences in compelling and dramatic terms."--Publishers Weekly

"Swain includes an account of his personal brush with death, after he and the American journalist Sydney Schanberg and the latter's Cambodian assistant, Dith Pran, were detained by guerrillas and threatened with accomplished memoir." --Kirkus Reviews
... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful journey
I feel a little sorry for a few of the reviewers who have gone before me. I think they may be missing the point. The book does not attempt to provide in-depth military facts, nor is it an attempt at writing a 'suspense thriller', nor is it fiction. Rather, it is portrayal of the experiences of one man [and his friends'] during times of conflict [largely] in Indochina. It is a book of truth and emotion, of beauty and futility, of love and war. Ultimately, it is a book about humanity. Jon Swain has done well, and this book would be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of anyone who is interested in human conflict, Indochina or personal accounts of life in times of extremely adverse and uncertain conditions.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very personal account of life as a war correspondent.
"River of Time" is perhaps the most intimate account yet published by the war correspondents and journalists who came of age in Southeast Asia. The author goes to great lengths to reveal all, even aspects which he knows many readers will find personally unflattering. This work is an emotional one totally different in tone from his colleague Robert Sam Anson's more hard-edged but equally distinguished work on the same subject, "War News". Unable to shake his admitted addition to seeking both the truth and personal fame in pursuit of same, Swain abandoned the love of his life for what became yet another hostage experience in Africa. His more recent brushes with death in East Timor show that his one-track obsession with his vocation remains intact. All those who once lost their hearts to Southeast Asia will see a little of themselves in Jon Swain's realistic and accurate self-portrait. A valuable work by a charming an complex man widely admired by his colleagues in the field and by his readers around the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written book
I bought this book recently in my hotel's bookstore in Siem Reap, Cambodia during a short holiday there to see Angkor Wat. It is truly a great read ! River of Time has given me a new insight on the appeal of Indo-China and its tragic history. And Jon Swain's writing is powerful and moving.

2-0 out of 5 stars Old News With No New Insight
I groped my way through this "memoir" as if reading a never-ending newspaper article--Swain is indeed a journalist by trade. If anything, the book gives a decent summary of the horrors in Southeast Asia (especially the Khmer Rouge) in the mid to late 1970s, complete with gory details but with no new insight. It's as if he dug up all the articles he wrote while covering the war at the time, strung them together, threw in some insincere personal musings and presto! Another product for the latest fad in book publishing: the memoir.

Swain is shamelessly nostalgic for Cambodia as he first encountered it--as a very young Briton just out of the French Foreign Legion. It was a place where he could frequent prostitutes, wilt away the afternoons in opium dens, and belong to an elite group of white foreign men living in Phonm Penh's best hotel.

He pays scant attention to the fact that the French Colonial legacy in Southeast Asia is what made it possible for him to frolick with abandon in another people's land and call it "paradise." It's this reputation that still drives countless western male tourists to this poverty-stricken, post-colonial, war-torn country in search of "affordable" pleasures. Swain romanticizes those issues by saying the scene was less "brash" (i.e. tourist-oriented) in the early 70s. His utter lack of CAMBODIAN perspective on the legacies of French Colonialism is disturbing.

But Swain is a journalist, not a scholar. As is typical with journalists who write historical accounts, such important historical background and perspective is missing and any insight the reader gets is personal. At one point in the book, Swain gives us an insincere justification for why he went back to Cambodia for its darkest hour, and tells us no, it was not for adventure thrill-seeking nor visions of journalistic heroism, but "I don't know." Somehow I don't believe that.

4-0 out of 5 stars May whet your appetite for more
Two decades after his experiences, British journalist Jon Swain reached for his pen -- or keyboard -- to pour his memories into a book. In today's over-saturation of commercial memoirs, surely yet another remembering is superfluous, especially one about the Vietnam War, a subject gnawed to the bone by thousands of other writers. But wait: his interest, Swain assures us, is less in war than in love. The book is about his enduring passion for the Mekong region and its long-suffering peoples who have kept their dignity in the pits of hell. It's around the Mekong that Swain witnessed humanity at its kindest and its most brutal all at the same time. Such is war.

Swain writes evocatively and his book should serve as a handy introduction to Indochina and its travails for foreigners little in the know. But there's this, too, to say about "River of Time": rather than a panorama of scenes and events, Swain provides several vignettes of them (from Saigon at war to Phnom Penh at its fall to the Khmer Rouge and to Bangkok at peace from it all). And that's my gripe about "River of Time." Without clear guiding narrative strings and conclusions, it reads like several touched-up newspaper articles blended together and joined by only one unifying theme: Swain himself. Too bad, because the book is chock-full of revealing anecdotes, thanks to Swain's well-honed eye and prodigious memory (as well as contemporary diary notes). The stories about Vietnamese boat people's suffering at the hands of Thai fishermen-turned-pirates are perhaps the best in the whole book.

But don't let me put you off an interesting, if somewhat lacking read. For all its flaws, "River of Time" is worth your money and time -- if only in whetting your appetite for other books about this hauntingly beautiful but deeply troubled land. ... Read more

16. Off the Rails in Phnom Penh: Into the Dark Heart of Guns, Girls, and Ganja
by Amit Gilboa
list price: $14.95
our price: $12.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9748303349
Catlog: Book (1998-07-25)
Publisher: Asia Books
Sales Rank: 63436
Average Customer Review: 3.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Phnom Penh is a city of beauty and degradation, tranquillity and violence, and tradition and transformation; a city of temples and brothels, music and gunfire, and festivals and coups.

But for many, it is simply an anarchic celebration of insanity and indulgence. Whether it is the $2 wooden shack brothels, the marijuana-pizza restaurants, the AK-47 fireworks displays, or the intricate brutality of Cambodian politics, Phnom Penh never ceases to amaze and amuse. For an individual coming from a modern Western society, it is a place where the immoral becomes acceptable and the insane becomes normal.

Amid this chaos lives an extraordinary group of foreign residents. Some are adventurers whose passion for life is given free rein in this unrestrained madhouse. Others are misfits who, unable to make it anywhere else, wallow in the decadent and inviting environment. This unparalleled first-hand account provides a fascinating, shocking, disturbing and often hilarious picture of contemporary Phnom Penh and the bizarre collection of expats who make it their home. As they search for love in the brothels or adventure on the firing range, Phnom Penh Journey follows them into the dark heart of guns, girls and ganja. ... Read more

Reviews (43)

5-0 out of 5 stars Insights are underneath the storyline
Read it for fun. Think about it, and you'll find much more. Like a lot of first person accounts, the best part of this book is the river of insight that runs beneath the storyline. Bought the book in the airport at Phnom Penh, then spent time in Siem Riep and Phnom Penh, and found that the book served two purposes - it entertained, with the story of the dissipated expats; it also provided insights into Cambodian (and Vietnamese) culture that served me during the rest of my trip in Southeast Asia. What insights? The contrast between Cambodian resignation and the for-its-own-sake hustling of the Vietnamese; the "stuck" in one historical time period of both countries (Cambodia is still "ruled" by the Pol Pot regime through memories; the US still rules Vietnam through historical obsession.) And many more. Just as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is about drugs at one level, and American culture at another, so too is Off the Rails an exploration - however apparently oblique - of the cultures of Southeast Asia. And for those who believe the book to be Cambodian bashing - I found it to be more of an indictment of stupid expat tricks. And the government does sell it at the airport...

4-0 out of 5 stars Wild Wild East For Isolated Expats
Geographical headline bias to boot, this is a fascinating look into this world of Phom Penh through the eyes of a recurring visitor, who became intimate with westerners living there. It's not just a gonzo journal. The author researched past, recent, and current Khmer history and politics, as well as how things really work in the capital of Cambodia politically, socially, and culturally. His insights are only of his experiences with expats in their own islolated community, who are living in their own exclusive world. (Again), This is not a book about Phnom Penh nor Cambodia, but the lives and experiences and attitudes of some western expats living there. Most of his insights are from these people who've chosen to live in Phnom Pehn. Many stories pique further interest, while others bring thoughts of danger and loathing of the type of people who go and stay in this city for long periods of time. In this context, it is very insightful and somewhat balanced. The author did take time to write in a serious attempt to note his experiences there. There have been claims of exagerration by some after the release of this piece. This can't be proven either way. Many expats in Phnom Pehn are unhappy to have been written about and claim to have been quoted without their permission, and the author I am told is not able to return because of some of the anger caused over this book. Some of the more undesirable elements of the world will no doubt come to Cambodia after reading this book. As of November 2002, there are some writers in Saigon, trying to write about similar things (attempting to duplicate Amit Gilboa) that go on in Saigon, although they are in no way in comparison to what life is like in Phnom Penh. This is an interesting look at the world and the people who choose to live in Phnom Pehn.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shocking and eye opening
I read Off the Rails in Phnom Penh (great title!) a few years ago but was reminded of it recently. And I have to say that after a few years the images exposed between these covers stayed with me.

The antics Amit's expat subjects engage in are at once disgusting and riveting. I had a particularly hard time reading the sex chapter. I just never really believed people like that existed. Or if they did it was someplace wayyyy over there. Amit brings them up close and personal and shines a light on the inhumanity of Man.

At the same time though he portrays the people of Cambodia and the country as one of great beauty and profound history.

I recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars You'll love it.
If you're even slightly intrigued with SE Asia, you'll dig this book. It's easy to read, and you won't want to put it down.

You will undoubtedly be both shocked and sorrowed at the detailed accounts of Phnom Penh's lawlessness and filthy goings-on. Though I personally did not feel that the author, Amit Gilboa, took a high moral tone in writing this book, I see others did. I felt that given his surroundings and the utterly perverted stories to which he was made privy on an almost daily basis, he managed to remain very objective in his writing.

The big point of this book is this: Atrocities and human rights violations that are all but unthinkable in most Western countries are commonplace in Cambodia.

Anyway, just read it. You won't be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars A trip into the surreal...
I must admit, I have not read allot of books in my life, but found this one hard to put down. At the time, Amit Gilboa was a journalist who found himself squatting in Cambodia, waiting for his visa to Vietnam to be renewed. His stay in Phnom Penh turned into an adventure of its own, and this book is a result of those experiences. Amit exposes the ugly underbelly of Phnom Penh, where socially inept men find themselves in a place where they have the upper hand. The stories he tells are funny, twisted, and insane. Along the way Gilboa gives us a history lesson on Cambodia and its people.

A very entertaining read! ... Read more

17. Cambodia (Topographics)
by Michael Freeman
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1861891865
Catlog: Book (2004-03-01)
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Sales Rank: 316737
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Book Description

Cambodia has a long and rich history, first becoming an artistic and religious power in Southeast Asia in the Angkor period (802_1432), when god kings ruled from vast temple complexes at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. The cultural influence of Cambodia on other countries in the region has been enormous, quite out of keeping with its reduced territory and limited political and economic power today.

In Cambodia, writer and photog-rapher Michael Freeman examines Cambodia_s present troubled situation in the light of its political and cultural history, looking at many aspects of modern Cambodia, including the psychological effect of the outrages of Pol Pot, and how Angkor Wat has become an icon and symbol for its tourist and heritage industry.

... Read more

18. Insight Compact Guide: Cambodia (Insight Guides)
by Not Applicable (Na )
list price: $8.95
our price: $8.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9814137987
Catlog: Book (2004-08-01)
Publisher: Insight Guides
Sales Rank: 319306
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19. I Have Seen the World Begin: Travels through China, Cambodia, and Vietnam
by Carsten Jensen
list price: $28.00
our price: $28.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0151007683
Catlog: Book (2002-03-07)
Publisher: Harcourt
Sales Rank: 495701
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Carsten Jensen set out by train from Denmark on a journey to the East, he expected to find lands of rich history and culture, and people
undergoing radical change at the end of the twentieth century. In this
illuminating narrative of his travels, there is this and much, much more.
Fusing social commentary and history with vibrant descriptions of people and places, Jensen brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of these venerable civilizations. He examines the reverberations of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, always attuned to the restless air of expectancy in the country, but also finds time for remote concerts of ancient Chinese music. He renders the pervasive sense of destruction, despair, and loss in Cambodia with particular sensitivity, wondering at the specter of death that still hovers over the landscape. And it is in Vietnam, with its palpable
legacy of colonialism and war, that Jensen ultimately loses himself in an extraordinary love affair.
At once compelling and richly informative, I Have Seen the World Begin is an incredible journey.
... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Solitary Dane wanders through the mysterious East
"The lone traveller is the most dependent of all, because he has need of everybody and no one has need of him."

So notes Carsten Jensen in I HAVE SEEN THE WORLD BEGIN, his narrative account of his journey of discovery through China, Cambodia and Vietnam during the early 90s.

Jensen begins his travelogue in Beijing, but quickly moves on to Shanghai, from which he travels by boat up the Yangtse River, then by rail and bus, into southeastern China near the border of Myanmar (Burma). A constant thread is the state of the country and its inhabitants, individually and collectively, post-Tiananmen Square.

Then it's on to Cambodia, a country yet to recover from the cruel self-immolation imposed by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge minions. As Jensen writes about this "biblical Judgement Day":

"... when the gates of Paradise were opened, it was only to reveal yet another graveyard. ... It was the humbled, the abased and the desperate who were raised on high, not to put an end to despair, but to extend it to everyone."

And lastly, Vietnam, with which the author is obviously entranced, and the reader with him. Much of Carsten's enthrallment is with the country's women - Tam, Kim and Scent of Spring in particular. It's with the first that he has a physical relationship. And it's Tam who states in the most eloquent manner I've ever encountered the worst thing about not being able to conceive a child:

"You can't pass on the eyes of the one you love to posterity. Like the stars they will be put out, instead of living on in a new face."

Whether Jensen is describing China's Tiger Leap Gorge, Shanghai's New Year fireworks celebration, Cambodia's Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh's horrific Security Prison 21, Vietnam's Hanoi ("like a wood with streets"), the royal tombs at Hue, or Dien Bien Phu, the graveyard of French colonialism in Southeast Asia, his magnificent prose transports you there.

I was tempted to award I HAVE SEEN THE WORLD BEGIN five stars, but am prevented from doing so by what I consider to be a significant omission. There's no photo section. What were the publisher and the author thinking?

Having finished the book, I now want to visit Vietnam, a country I really had no desire to visit before. If a travel essay can accomplish this for any destination, it's very good indeed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Where does the world begin
The title of this book, I Have Seen the World Begin, got my curiosity. The Danish journalist Carsten Jensen travelled from Russia south in Asia, through China, Cambodia, Vietnam and Hong Kong, and memories from these travels are collected in this huge book. And there are not only memories. Jensen has an open eye and tries to explain what he sees, and make it part of a bigger context, our world.

Jensen travels alone, but he meets local people on his way. And he is not afraid of making contact. Many of these people are there for us to meet through the book. I Have Seen the World Begin is not a romantic story. Here we meet all the dirt of poverty, all the dust of the landscape, all the evilness in people, though we also meet the beauty of the women in Vietnam, the charm of a poor guide in a small village in China, the greatness of a landscape. Travelling might be boring and depressing, or it might give new dimensions to your life. Jensen has experienced both.

And where does the world begin according to Carsten Jensen? It began for him in the birth of his child. The world is alive, the world is a place which will go on living inspite all odds

Britt Arnhild Lindland ... Read more

20. Adventure Cambodia: An Explorer's Travel Guide
by Matt Jacobson
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9749575539
Catlog: Book (2005-01-31)
Publisher: Silkworm Books
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