This December 2015 paperback is a rather haphazard but fascinating collection of stories about various historical fragments found in the city. Remains of an Angkorian-era building at Wat Ounalom are explained; the grave of a mysterious Frenchman is found at Wat Phnom; Pol Pot’s childhood home and school are explored; the hotel where temple looter Andre Malraux and his wife were detained is described; a history of some of Phnom Penh’s street names is provided — and lots more.
While the gritty details may only be appreciated by those who already have some knowledge of the city, if you’re heading to Cambodia this is an interesting way to approach getting to know some of its history. The writing is a little uneven — and the indexing is far too brief! — but the quirky anecdotes are well researched. Remember a few of these stories and you’ll be the most entertaining person in your share taxi to Siem Reap.
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