Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review - Beyond the Killing Fields, War Writing, by Sydney Schanberg

By R.V. Lee 
Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: September 15, 2010 
Print Friendly
1 comment FONT +  FONT -

Reporter Sydney Schanberg's 1980 New York Times Magazine article "The Death and Life of Dith Pran" was one of many crowning achievements for the longtime war correspondent who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his reporting on the fall of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge. The magazine piece described the struggle for survival of his Cambodian assistant trapped inside the genocidal hell into which Cambodia was transformed under Pol Pot. Schanberg's story of Dith Pran was made into the 1984 film The Killing Fields, which garnered two Academy Awards and dramatically thrust the grisly reality of Pol Pot's Cambodia in front of the world.

In a first-ever compilation of Schanberg's war reporting, Beyond the Killing Fields, readers have the opportunity to revel in Schanberg's crisp and cogent writing as he reported on the gradual descent of Cambodia from a staging ground and sideshow in the greater Indochina conflict to its own internal self destruction. Even though we all know the outcome, reading the reporter's dispatches as the Khmer Rouge closes in on Phnom Penh puts us back in the place and allows us to share the sense many felt that maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. At the same time, knowing the outcome, you can't help but feel a sense of dread and horror as Schanberg describes individuals who do not know that they are doomed. With that chilling record of events and the complete 1980 New York Times Magazine piece alone, the book is worth its price.

But, while there is little question of what transpired in Cambodia after the Vietnam War, there remain many "black holes" when it comes to the truth about American prisoners of war and missing in action who are believed to have survived the war but were left behind. Here, for those who believe and for those who doubt, Schanberg lays out the evidence and the theory behind what would be, if true, one of the darkest and shameful decisions in American history. During the 2008 presidential election campaign and the candidacy of the world's most famous POW, Sen. John McCain, Schanberg saw an opportunity to bring his reporting and hard evidence on a sustained coverup that began with President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in 1973, to light. His minutely detailed and documented investigative report got little attention in the glare of the presidential horserace and tidal wave of news in 2008, but perhaps its publication in this compilation will capture more attention.

Beyond the Killing Fields is not simply an anthology of great reporting, but in our strange era of being "almost comfortable with regular wars," Schanberg suggests, "We Americans are notoriously deficient about taking lessons from our own history." He adds, "Armed with this knowledge, the next time a politician says we must invade and destroy evildoers who are being well contained by other means, maybe we'll think twice."

Potomac Books, 2010
 


One Response to “Book Review - Beyond the Killing Fields, War Writing, by Sydney Schanberg”


  1. 1

    [...] post: Book Review – Beyond the Killing Fields, War Writing, by Sydney … Post a [...]



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by the Weider History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History Group

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2013 Weider History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy