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A chronology of the slow road to peace

A chronology of the slow road to peace

The Cambodia Conflict: Search for a Settlement, 1979 - 1991

An Analytical Chronology By Patrick Raszenelengberg and Peter Schier

Published by the Institute of Asian Affairs, 605pp

T HE Cambodia Conflict: Search for a Settlement, 1979 - 1991 may well be the most

comprehensive collection of material on the slow process toward peace in Cambodia

following the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.

It provides a detailed factual account of the hypocrisy, cold war politics and regional

rivalries which prolonged Cambodia's misery throughout the 1980's and plots the painfully

slow process which culminated in the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in October

1991.

Broken into chapters which cover the events of each year between the rout of the

Khmer Rouge by Vietnamese forces and the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, it brings

together documents and official statements from a variety of sources which underscore

the complexity of the problems which kept Cambodia isolated from the world for so

long.

In presenting the positions of Cambodia's warring factions during that time, it also

provides a useful insight into Cambodian politics as it is played today and into

the motivations and mind-sets of the main political figures.

As co-author Peter Schier writes in his introduction "It contains all events,

approaches, initiatives, meetings, conferences, proposals and plans aimed at solving

the Third Indochina War..."

The book taps mainly primary sources - diplomatic documents, papers and statements,

news agency and press reports and monitored radio broadcasts - to provide a detailed

chronology of events between 1979 and 1991.

The publication is obviously the result of many hours of painstaking work. Schier

- a long-term China and Cambodia scholar - began gathering information on the Third

Indochina conflict in 1978.

Work on the chronology began in earnest in 1989 when Jeffry G. Wong began to survey

the material Schier collected and - with the support of several post graduate students

in history and co-author Patrick Raszelenberg - the publication was substantially

completed by August 1993.

Refreshingly, the text - unlike that found in so many academic works - is an easy

read, despite the complexity of the subject matter and the unwieldy acronyms which

plague Cambodian politics.

But - other than for those with a passion for Cambodia's recent history - this is

not a book everybody would choose as a bedside reader. It is principally a reference

book - a chronology of events with some analysis rather than a "popular"

historical work.

As a reference, however, the book could be greatly improved by the inclusion of a

detailed index. Relying as it does on the chronological presentation of events, much

time can be spent looking for information if the reader can not recall specific dates.

Having said that, the book is obviously the result of many hours of tedious work

and should be considered a significant feat of scholarship - a worthy addition to

the library of anybody with a curiosity about recent Cambodian history, and of particular

value to those with a professional interest.

- (The book can be ordered from The Institute of Asian Affairs, Rothenbaumchaussee

32, Hamburg DC - 20148, fax 00 49 4041 07945. Total price for airmail delivery 84

DM (approx $56) and for surface delivery DM 71 (approx $48). A limited number are

available for $50 at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, House No 4, Street 462, tel.

015 914 541.)

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