It's still going to be some time before we can safely pack up our bags and leave Australia for a trip to Cambodia, but that doesn't mean we can't experience the history and culture! These are our top recommended books to read about Cambodia, as suggested by our CEO, Sally Hetherington OAM.
This book is set in the 12th Century of Cambodia’s lost Angkor civilization. The story spans over a number of years and focuses on a beautiful woman, Sray, who is called to a life of prominence in the royal court. In telling her tale, Sray travels to may of the places we have visited on our Purpose and Philanthropy trips to Cambodia, and it makes the reader feel even more connected with the country. This book about Cambodia has phenomenal details, and is perfect for those interested in the history of the Angkor temples.
This true story is written by Loung Ung in the voice of her five-year-old self. It covers her life before the Khmer Rouge assumed power over Cambodia in 1975, her four years under the brutal regime and what happened in the end. Although there are many stories out there from Khmer Rouge survivors, this is undoubtedly the most well-known. You can watch the movie version on Netflix, though be warned, it isn't for the faint-hearted.
This incredibly detailed book was written by the late Joel Brinkley, a talented journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting in Cambodia on the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. The close-up reporting in this book about Cambodia illuminates the country, its people, and the deep historical roots of its modern-day behaviour. Although it is a heavy book, it really is worth reading, especially if you are moving to Cambodia.
This story thrusts an archeologist between ancient and modern Cambodia, giving you an insight into both worlds. The archaeologist, Anna, must deal with evil and corrupt forces who threaten her life, whilst also battling her feelings for a man she isn’t supposed to love. Be warned that the book ends with a cliffhanger, however a sequel doesn't seem to be imminent.
When Clouds Fell From the Sky recounts the lives of five key people to tell the story of five decades of Cambodia’s history. It covers the 1960s – before the Khmer Rouge were powerful, to the 1970-75 civil war, to the Khmer Rouge’s disastrous 1975-79. It then moves to the 2000s to examine the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which has been said to be a failure in seeking justice for the two million people who lost their lives.
We couldn't write a post about books based on Cambodia without including the manifesto written by our CEO! An easy read, this book covers Sally's five years living in Cambodia, where she realised that voluntourism actually causes more harm than good. When you purchase this book, the proceeds are donated to our charity, Human & Hope.
If you are someone who likes to protect your books while reading them, be sure to check out our book sleeves! They are made by women in Cambodia and support their livelihoods.