From the perspective of a family and friendship group, Madeleine Thien records the victim’s experience of the rampant evil of the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. It is sheer terror, utterly inhumane, evil. We are left wondering how such atrocity can take over a whole society. Too many allow themselves to be caught up in its rhetoric : too many are brutalised, tortured and murdered as its victims. By contrasting the same victims’ lives in Canada, Thien shows that the same human beings can flourish, in their case as advanced neuro-scientists, in an enabling culture.
The problem of evil is as much a problem for humanism as it is for religion.
Philip Short’s ‘Pol Pot – The History of a Nightmare’ offers a thorough background history of the events which form the setting for Thien’s account.