Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond

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Moon Handbooks: Cambodia reviewed in The Chicago Tribune

The following review  by June Sawyers of the Chicago Tribune of my Moon Cambodia Guide appeared on www.philly.com.

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Moon Handbooks: Cambodia

Avalon

If Cambodia is known for one thing, aside from the decades of war and genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge, it would have to be the temple ruins of Angkor, which attract more than a million foreign visitors a year. Author Tom Vater describes this famous site quite extensively, as well as lesser-known temples.

Vater insists that conditions in the country are “slowly” getting better, despite the instability of its recent past.

Indeed, until a mere decade or so ago, Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh was considered one of the most dangerous capitals in the world. “For the time being at least,” the city is making a comeback, he writes.

He describes what to see and do there before exploring Cambodia’s many miles of coastline and the region along the Mekong River. Like the country, the book is full of surprises. For example, there is a sidebar on Angelina Jolie, who in 2005 received honorary Cambodian citizenship (part of her 2001 movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was shot in Cambodia, and she adopted a Cambodian child) for her humanitarian work, especially in making people aware of the omnipresent danger of land mines.

Movie fans also will appreciate learning about Lumphat, a ruined city in the heart of the jungle, formerly known as Ratanakiri, made famous by Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now.

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