POL POT SOLVED THE LEPROSY PROBLEM
Remembering Colonial and Post-Colonial Worlds 1956-1981
Paperback, 280 pages
In his abundant, deft and absorbing body of work Milton Osborne has deepened and expanded our knowledge of Southeast Asia. As a diplomat, scholar, public servant and freelance writer he has shared his knowledge of Southeast Asia’s past and his concerns about its ecological future.
-- From David Chandler, Professor Emeritus, Monash University, author of ‘A History of Cambodia’ and ‘The Tragedy of Cambodian History’.
Covering more than twenty tumultuous years from 1956 to 1981 Milton Osborne’s book ranges in geographical scope from Papua New Guinea to France. But most of all it focuses on Cambodia and Vietnam, where he worked as a young diplomat, in 1959-61, before returning as a graduate student and academic. Later he was a consultant to UNHCR and the ‘Cambodian Refugee Problem’, working along the Thai-Cambodian border. It is a book where mordant humour is present but tragedy is all too often the dominating theme of life under Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia’s mercurial leader, and then Pol Pot’s tyranny. His experiences in Vietnam offer a counterpoint to conventional accounts of that conflict, when he was a privileged observer of a war that seemed without end.
Milton Osborne’s early experience in Australia’s Phnom Penh embassy has shaped the rest of his life, which remains centred on Southeast Asia. After completing his doctorate at Cornell and holding various academic appointments he returned to government service as Head of the Asia Branch of the Office of National Assessments in 1982. Since 1993 he has been a full-time writer and consultant on Southeast Asian subjects. He is the author of ten books including ‘Southeast Asia: An Introductory History’, now in its 12th edition. He has been a Non-resident Fellow at the Lowy Institute and in 2013 the French government honoured him with appointment as a Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Mérite for his writing on France in Asia and his role in liaison with French officials