The Khmer Rouge
Ideology, Militarism, and the Revolution That Consumed a Generation
by Boraden Nhem
July 2013, 216pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39337-2
$57, £43, 48€, A82
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39338-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The Khmer Rouge took control in Cambodia in the 1970s. Its leaders wanted a return to a simpler, agrarian lifestyle, but the communist group’s actions caused famines instead. The Khemer Rouge claimed to be a “party for peace,” yet committed a genocide with a death toll estimated to be over one million. How did this guerrilla movement rise to power in the first place?

This book provides a comprehensive yet concise narrative of the history of the Khmer Rouge, from its inception during the 1950s through its eventual reintegration into Cambodian society in 1998.

The Khmer Rouge: Ideology, Militarism, and the Revolution That Consumed a Generation examines the entire organizational life of the Khmer Rouge, looking at it from both a societal and organizational perspective. The chapters cover each pivotal period in the history of the Khmer Rouge, explaining how extreme militarism, organizational dynamics, leadership policies, and international context all conspired to establish, maintain, and destroy the Khmer Rouge as an organization. The work goes beyond inspecting the actions of a few key leadership individuals to describe the interaction among different groups of elites as well as the ideologies and culture that formed the structural foundation of the organization.


  • Utilizes new interviews and archival documents to assess how the Khmer Rouge came to power, challenging the conventional wisdom which holds that organizational strength propelled the Khmer Rouge to power
  • Presents new perspectives on the performance of the UNTAC in Cambodia, especially regarding how it dealt with Cambodian factions
  • Provides never-before-seen archival documents, interviews, and recently declassified information and photos about the Win-Win Policy and the end of the Khmer Rouge
  • Underscores the difficulty of strategic warfare in an unconventional conflict where the belligerents cannot be identified by their uniforms
Lieutenant Colonel Boraden Nhem is deputy director of the Institute of Military History, General Department of Policy and Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defense, Kingdom of Cambodia. He also serves as assistant to Gen. Tea Banh, deputy prime minister, and minister of national defense. Nhem is a doctoral candidate in political science and international relations with a focus on national security affairs, University of Delaware, Newark, after previous studies in France and Cambodia. His published works include the monograph A Continuation of Politics by Other Means: The "Politics" of a Peacekeeping Mission in Cambodia (1992–93), published by the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA. He is also the English translator of many Khmer books, including Civil War Termination in Cambodia: Win-Win Policy of Samdech Techo Hun Sen in International Context; Research into Guerilla Warfare in Pailin; and the forthcoming second volume of Gen. Tea Banh's biography.


"Building on secondary source materials in English, French, and Khmer, the author incorporates archival research and interviews conducted over a three-year period with Khmer Rouge soldiers. Perhaps most relevant to students of military theory, Nhem's book engages with works on military strategy, like that of 19th-century German theorist Carl von Clausewitz. Summing Up: Recommended."—Choice, January 1, 2014

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