Books written about Cambodia, especially modern Cambodia, are not, as a rule, cheerful reads. Most focus on the monumental, incredibly destructive force that was the Khmer Rouge. They look at the effect a relatively small number of people had on the lives of their countrymen and the way their rule twisted the country's history. Now, with HunSen resisting a popular movement that is tired of his long and heavy handed rule, people are watching closely. And they should be. My Cambodian friends are afraid of a powerful government that doesn't respect the people--and with good reason.
In this context, it is probably a good time to refresh our memories.
Cambodia's Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land
In 2008 and 2009, Brinkley returned to Cambodia to find out. He discovered a population in the grip of a venal government. He learned that one-third to one-half of Cambodians who lived through the Khmer Rouge era have P.T.S.D.--and its afflictions are being passed to the next generation. His extensive close-up reporting in Cambodia's Curse illuminates the country, its people, and the deep historical roots of its modern-day behavior.
There are many other fine books that detail that period and its troubling effects, and I recommend you check around and read some. With all that is happening in the world, ignoring the changes going on in SE Asia, given its turbulent history, would be a mistake.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a lighter book on Cambodia. John Pocock initiated this project when I was living in Kampot, Cambodia. He came up with the idea of using my photographs and a series of mental images that we'd use poetically to capture impressions of the place and time. It seemed like fun.