Book Review: “Hunters in the Dark” by Lawrence Osbourne

  • This is in its own way a fascinating read, perhaps not for the reasons mentioned by other reviewers. It follows the intersecting lives of a dissolute American, a parsifalian Brit, a corrupt Khmer cop, a bloody-minded taxi driver, and several women whose heads you seldom enter. It is on the surface a tale of money tainted by greed and blood which, like the flood waters of the Mekong, seeks its own level. More accurately, it is a character study in the over-arching character of Cambodia, behind every scene and invading every conversation.
    The schizophrenia of the Cambodia/Kampuchea is well illustrated. The brightest and best were elevated by Western education and philosophy, loosing the centered personality of their youth. They came back home and overturned that mellow state of affairs to triumph in 1975, becoming the “new men” of the nation: tense, driven and willing to sacrifice their countrymen on an altar of ideology.
    The Pol Phot and Khmer Rouge are long gone, but the new men, now in their fifties are dealing with the ghosts of their youthful orthodoxy.
    Their children, in their own way intensely Westernized, have taken the message away that ideology is poison and that there is some critical benefit to being Khymer.
    The dialogue is flawed by occasional jarring “head-hopping” of dubious effectiveness.
    In the end, I was pulled in by the character of the country rather than the humans who operate within it.
    • ISBN-13: 978-0553447347 , published Jan. 2016, 320 pp,Hogarth

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