“The banyan tree grows throughout Cambodia. It may reach a height of over 100 feet, and as it grows, new roots descend from its branches, pushing into the ground and forming new trunks. The roots grow relentlessly; many of the ancient temples of Angkor have toppled as these roots have become embedded in the cracks and crevices between their massive stones. A single tree might have dozens of trunks, and it is often impossible to tell which is the original. This is Cambodia today: a thousand intertwined branches, a thousand stories woven together, a thousand currents of history swirling in different directions. To understand Cambodia in the present, it is necessary to look at Cambodia in the past.” http://www.mekong.net/cambodia/banyan1.htm This paper will begin by given a cursory overview of Cambodian history that sets the stage for the rule of Norodom Sihanouk, then, in more detail, specific events that happened between 1953 ( the date of Cambodian Independence from France) through 1973 when Sihanouk was overthrown in a coup. With the background set, I will then discuss the version of events as describe by William Blum in his work “Killing Hope.” It is my hope that an objective look can be given into the role that the United States played during the 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s in Indochina and more specifically Cambodia.
The area that is present-day Cambodia came under Khmer rule about 600, when the region was at the center of a vast empire that stretched over most of Southeast Asia. Under the Khmers, who were Hindus, a magnificent temple complex was constructed at Angkor. Buddhism was introduced in the 12th century during the rule of Jayavaram VII. However, the kingdom, then known as Kambuja, fell into decline after Jayavaram's reign and was nearly annihilated by Thai and Vietnamese invaders. Its power steadily diminished until 1863, when France colonized the region, joining Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam into a single protectorate known as French...
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Igout, Michael. Phenom Penh Then and Now. First ed. Thailand: White Lotus, 1993.
Osbourne, Milton. Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Price of Darkness. Honolulu: University of Hawaii P, 1994.
Shawcross, William. Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia. Revised ed. Cooper Square P, 2002.
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