All the world’s a page: the best books on Cambodia

Enjoy hours of holiday reading with these essential books

The Angkor GuidebookThe Angkor Guidebook

By Andrew Booth

A lavish study of Cambodia’s most iconic landmark, The Angkor Guidebook from AboutAsia Travel combines cutting-edge archaeological research into the Angkor temple complexes with beautiful overlaid reproductions of the holy city at the height of its splendour. An ideal pocket companion for first-time travellers to Cambodia, Andrew Booth’s awe-inspiring vision of a monument ravaged by time offers a glimpse back to a land where gods and demons once warred for the fate of the world.

Hunters in the DarkHunters in the Dark

By Lawrence Osborne

Touted by some as the new Graham Greene, writer-cum-nomad Lawrence Osborne’s latest literary thriller follows despairing English teacher Robert Grieve across the Thai-Cambodia border and into a pit of violence, corruption and intrigue from which he struggles to escape. As Robert’s once-lacklustre life becomes hopelessly entangled in the machinations of urbane playboy Simon Beaucamp and Khmer Rouge torturer-turned-crooked-cop Davuth, his anguished meditations on the fundamental irrationality of existence give Hunters in the Dark a depth that will endure long after the last page has been turned.

Cambodia's Second KingdomCambodia’s Second Kingdom

By Astrid Norén-Nilsson

A thorough exploration of modern Cambodia’s tense political landscape, Swedish political scientist Astrid Norén-Nilsson’s wonderfully accessible treatise charts the competing visions of Cambodia fuelling an increasingly hostile political climate. Boasting intimate interviews with Prime Minister Hun Sen, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and more of the nation’s most powerful politicians, Cambodia’s Second Kingdom puts into context the turmoil of a nation still struggling to forge a new identity after decades of war.

The Cambodian DancerThe Cambodian Dancer

By Daryn Reicherter

Based on the true story of a Cambodian dancer who fled the carnage of the Khmer Rouge after the regime killed her family, Reicherter’s touching children’s book – elegantly rendered in watercolours by illustrator Christy Hale – reinforces the importance of artistic expression in the face of grievous loss. Following the dancer to her new home in California, where she begins to instruct her fellow refugees in the dance form immortalised by the apsara of Angkor, The Cambodian Dancer is a paean to the enduring legacy of Cambodia’s most ancient cultural art.

Customs of CambodiaCustoms of Cambodia

By Zhou Daguan | Translated by Solang uk and Beling Uk

In August 1296, at the height of the Khmer Empire, Chinese official Zhou Daguan arrived at the court of God-King Indravarman III in the ancient capital of Angkor. Shocked and entranced by the alien scenes before his eyes, his book The Customs of Cambodia – most recently translated and annotated by Chinese-Khmer couple Solang and Beling Uk – is an intimate glimpse into daily Cambodian life more than seven centuries ago, from the countless concubines of the king to the hill tribe slaves bought and sold for a hundred copper coins.

 

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