Collection Name: Drachen Foundation Collection
Collection Number: 2220
Post Type: Book
This item was entered by Matthew Sutton. They assume full responsibility for all content.
Artist or Author: Francois Bizot
Creation Year: 2000
ISBN: 0-375-41293-X Language: English Description: A literary and historical tour de force: what one
man saw and did in a land of pristine beauty on the
eve of one of the twentieth century's most barbaric
In 1971 Francois Bizot was a young French scholar
of Khmer pottery and Buddhist ritual working in
rural Cambodia. Now, more than thirty years later, he
has summoned up the unbearable memory of that
moment, letting us see as never before those years
leading inexorably to genocide. Perfectly recalled, in-
delibly written, The Gate recounts the nightmare of
Bizot's arrest and captivity on suspicion of being an
American spy, and his nearly miraculous survival as
the only Westerner ever to escape a Khmer Rouge
prison. It is the story, as well, of Bizot's unlikely
friendship with his captor, Douch--a figure today
better remembered as a ruthless perpetrator of the
then-looming terror, about which Bizot tried, without
success, to warn his government.
Bizot's experience to that point would itself have
merited report. But upon his return to Cambodia
four years later, chance ordained a second remark-
able act in this drama. As the sole individual fluent
in both French and Khmer, Bizot found himself play-
ing the intermediary in a surreal standoff when the
Communist-backed guerillas, now ascendant, laid siege
to the French Embassy compound in Phnom Penh.
Finally it would fall to Bizot to lead the desper-
ate retreat of the colonial population: here he re-
counts how he helped the remaining Westerners--
and any Cambodians he could--to escape the doomed capital.
Both beautiful and devastating, The Gate is a searing
and unforgettable act of witness and remembrance.
Images: (Click to open in viewer.)