Phnom Penh: A Cultural History

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Oxford University Press, Sep 4, 2008 - Travel - 256 pages
As a one-time resident of Phnom Penh and an authority on Southeast Asia, Milton Osborne provides a colorful account of the troubled history and appealing culture of Cambodia's capital city. Osborne sheds light on Phnom Penh's early history, when first Iberian missionaries and freebooters and then French colonists held Cambodia's fate in their hands. The book examines one of the most intriguing rulers of the twentieth century, King Norodom Sihanouk, who ruled over a city of palaces, Buddhist temples, and transplanted French architecture, an exotic blend that remains to this day. Osborne also describes the terrible civil war, the Khmer Rouge's capture of the city, the defeat of Pol Pot in 1979, and Phnom Penh's slow reemergence as one of the most attractive cities in Southeast Asia.
 

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Contents

A Personal Introduction to a Changing City
1
Deciphering the Palimpsest Finding the Past in the Present
19
Iberian Alarums and Excursions
35
Royal City Colonial City
49
Transformation Building the New Phnom Penh in an Era of Colonial Good Feeling
79
Phnom Penh before the Second World War A Literary Way Station for the Angkor Temples
95
Watershed Years 19391953
113
Sihanouk Time 19531970
123
Writing Obituaries for Old Phnom Penh
167
Ambiguous City in an Ambiguous Country 19791993
179
Todays City Somehow Hope Survives
195
The Royal Place
213
The Nation Museum
217
Further Reading by Chapter
219
Index of Literary Historical Names
227
Index of Places Landmarks
231

Three Years Eight Months and Twenty Days Phnom Penh under Pol Pot
141

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About the author (2008)

Milton Osborne is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Asian Studies at the Australian National University, Canberra. He is the author of nine books on the history and politics of Southeast Asia.

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