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Sihanouk: Prince of Light, prince of darkness is the first full-length English-language account of one of the most remarkable and controversial Asian leaders of the 20th century. This critical, unauthorised biography, gives due credit to the achievements of Norodom Sihanouk but also looks behind the myths of his claims to have ruled a 'fairytale kingdom' that was an 'oasis of peace'. In 1941 Norodom Sihanouk ascended the Cambodian throne, supported by the French with the intent that he be their puppet king. Milton Osborne traces the complete background leading to this event, and then follows Sihanouk's remarkable growth to political maturity: his transformation from a dilettante king to a vigorous and sometimes ruthless politician. Fully acknowledging his remarkable energy, the book shows how the early years of Sihanouk's successes turned sour as, unwilling to share responsibility, he gradually alienated politicians on both the left and the right. Convinced that he alone knew what was best for Cambodia, his repression of dissent became more vicious and led finally to his overthrow in 1970. Then, while Pol Pot's tyranny gripped Cambodia, Sihanouk languished as a prisoner and an exile in Phnom Penh and Peking. In the 1990s Norodom Sihanouk emerged from exile to take an increasingly active role in the new leadership of his country, culminating in 1993 with his ascension, once more, to the Cambodian throne.
University of Hawai'i Press
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