The Legacy of Pol Pot

Download Audio
photoOn April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge marched into the Cambodian capitol of Phnom Penh, captured the city, and then began one of the most brutal and ruthless dictatorial regimes in the history of the 20th century. Their leader was Pol Pot. Three years into his rule, one million Cambodians were dead.

Even for those who know about the killing fields of Cambodia, the man who created them remains one of history's more shadowy figures. Who was Pol Pot, the fun-loving boy and later the schoolmaster with the enigmatic smile, whose ideas about radically transforming Cambodia into a more just and equal society resulted instead in the death of one out of seven of his countrymen? And why did so many Cambodians go along with his vision, until it was too late for them to escape with their lives?

In his new book, "Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare," BBC journalist Philip Short connects the dots between the dictator's early indoctrination into unquestioning obedience and how, once in power, he applied those ideas to an entire country.

Hear a conversation with Phillip Short about the life, mind, and legacy of Pol Pot, the creator of Cambodia's nightmare.


Philip Short, BBC journalist and author of the new book, "Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare."

This program aired on April 12, 2005.


More from On Point

Listen Live