What does it mean to say two million people lost their lives during the years of Khmer Rouge rule? The true answer can only be told in microcosm, as Robert Carmichael has done in this intimate and heartbreaking story of the disappearance of one man, and the decades of suffering that followed as his family searched for answers.
In this brilliant and vivid book, Robert Carmichael skilfully weaves personal accounts with history and reflective analysis, giving essential context to the violence. It is a powerful and compelling story that avoids casting the perpetrators as 'monsters'; instead, showing them to be terrifyingly ordinary. And throughout, Martine and Neary's anguished quest for answers brings home the true scope of the suffering that reached far beyond the walls of S-21.
As moving as it is well researched. Robert Carmichael's sharp prose and depth of knowledge of Cambodia's history transforms a daughter's search for her missing father into a nation's journey to find peace and reconciliation with its brutal history of genocide.
Few journalists have studied the Khmer Rouge tribunal as closely as Carmichael, whose book reveals the complex, often contradictory nature of international justice. What justice can be had when weighed against such crimes? It is an issue victims and observers alike have struggled with from the start . . . The book is like tracing paper, layering Ket's life over Cambodia's sad history. Threading it together are Martine and Ket's daughter Neary, whose early chance encounter with Carmichael yielded this extraordinary story.
Like Auschwitz, like Stalin's purges, the mass murders of the Khmer Rouge are one of those extraordinary events that make us wonder about the human capacity for evil. Through a profoundly moving tale that weaves together the connected stories of a victim, his surviving family, and members of the regime, Robert Carmichael brings us into the heart of the darkness that took over Cambodia, bringing it alive in the way no mere statistics can. I've not seen a comparable book about these horrors.
A love story that rises - so beautifully - above, and in stark contrast to, the absurd and criminal insanity of the Khmer Rouge. Meticulous and carefully documented, When the Clouds Fell from the Sky explores a wide range of Cambodia's issues while testifying in a deeply moving way about one of humanity's worst tragedies.
An outstanding book of astonishing power, one of the most important and valuable to emerge from the horrors of the Pol Pot regime . . . a direct and vivid account of the cruelty and destruction of the country's darkest era . . . Carmichael relates a family's intensely painful private story with great sensitivity, weaving it into his overall narrative of the genocide . . . this and his sincerity make his book unforgettable. One finishes it with an ache in the heart.