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The Gate


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Fran-ois Bizot is a French ethnologist who has spent the greater part of his career studying Buddhism. He is the Director of Studies at the -cole Pratique des Hautes--tudes and holds the chair in South-East-Asian Buddhism at the Sorbonne.


Scholar Bizot was arrested in early 1970s Cambodia on the charge of being an American spy and eventually became the only Westerner ever to escape from a Khmer Rouge prison. Here's his story. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"It's better to have a sparsely populated Cambodia than a country full of incompetents!" The speaker of this chilling statement is Douch, the Khmer Rouge true believer who ran the camp that held French ethnologist Bizot for the closing months of 1971, several years before the Marxist revolutionaries unleashed massive bloodshed on the small Southeast Asian country. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge's chaotic occupation of Phnom Penh confined the small French community in the city to the premises of the French embassy, the portal of which supplies this volume with its title. Married to a Cambodian citizen, Bizot was an unusual Westerner there, in that once the terror started, he showed little inclination to flee the country. Bizot exploited his status as a rare Khmer-speaking Westerner not only to escape execution but also to extract a measure of autonomy for himself. He frequently showed remarkable defiance toward his heavily armed and ruthless captors. Bizot's account maintains a melancholy tone throughout. Despite his frequent heroic acts, Bizot emphasizes his own frailty and weakness-when he's not looking to set the record straight. He remains especially angry at Western leftists who insisted that the Vietnamese played little role in Cambodia despite ample evidence to the contrary. What's especially striking is the apparent contradiction between Bizot's sympathetic portrait of Douch and his description of the countless murders Douch committed in the name of the revolution. For many Americans, the senseless tragedy of Cambodia remains a mystery; this elegant volume helps outline the contours of that tragedy from a unique perspective. Maps. 40,000 first printing. (Mar. 11) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

"A harrowing narrative, worthy of a novel by Graham Greene or John le Carre... [It] possesses the indelible power of a survivor's testimony." --"The New York Times" "It possesses such truth of feeling, such clarity and conviction of narrative, such a wealth of image and adventure, and such depths of long-held passion that I do believe it is indeed that rarest thing: a classic." - John le Carre, from the Foreword "A deeply unsettling account of a particular ordeal that suggests larger questions: the moralities of power's ends and means, the character of revolutionary fanaticism and the indecipherable humanity that flickers within it. . . . by turns evocative, wise and crisscrossed by fury." "- The New York Times Book Review ""[A] fascinating book, to say the least. Passages of The Gate are riveting, some scenes heartbreaking." -"The Wall Street Journal"

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