Sympathy for the Devil: A Journalist’s Memoir from Inside Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge
I have been researching and writing Sympathy for the Devil: A Journalist’s Memoir from Inside Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge for 25 years. For 25 years, I conducted original reporting to compile what is now an 800 page, unedited manuscript. I have accumulated millions of words of notes, hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings and hundreds of photographs, and interviewed hundreds of those involved in the contemporary Cambodian political tragedy known as “the Killing fields.”
It is all 100% original research. I have compiled this without any institutional backing or financial support.
It is an attempt at portraying contemporary Cambodian political history using original research, told in the first person, and interviewing all the major political players that shaped Cambodia since the 1970s.
I devote special focus on the area of Cambodian modern history most neglected and misunderstood–the history of the Khmer Rouge through the lens of the architects of the killing fields themselves. These include extended multiple interviews with all the remaining members of the core leadership of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. These include Pol Pot, all the remaining members of the Standing Committee of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, which included Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ta Mok, Ke Pok, Son Sen.
Also interviewed are King Norodom Sihanouk, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Prince Norodom Ranaradith, Sam Rainsy and scores of other Cambodian leaders of consequence over the the last 30 years.
The compilation of Sympathy for the Devil involved research that spanned North America, Europe, and Asia, including every province and every political faction in Cambodia. Relevant interviews were conducted in Paris, Washington, Beijing, Thailand, North Korea and elsewhere.
Now the manuscript is ready to be shaped into a story of the complex tragedy of the last decades–accurate, sourced, empirical, compelling, and readable–accessible to Cambodians and those interested in the mundane realities of mass murder, state sponsored torture and genocide, and other related tragic issues of interest to Cambodians and foreigners.
But in order to bring it to publication, it urgently requires money.
It requires the keen eye of an excellent, paid editor. It requires paid production of layout and graphics and photographs. It requires me to to devote uninterrupted time to ensuring the excellence of the final product. Concomitant with that, this requires that my bills be paid. I am a freelancer and have no institutional support or other income. That means the rent needs to be paid, the utilities paid, the equipment to produce the product be funded, the refrigerator stocked. It means the computer bills need to be funded and the communication technology be available and paid for. It is this final process that requires concrete costs and my undiverted focus. This will result in a quality product of which represents a good chunk of my life’s work. I am seeking the minimum necessary funding to accomplish this.
The funding will cover the costs of good editing, quality layout and graphics, copious photographs, and my undiverted focus on completing writing the manuscript to create a serious, but readable, accounting of contemporary Cambodian political history.
This project is intended to ensure that Sympathy for the Devil will be released in a form that it, and its unique contribution to the historical record, deserves.
That means both print book versions as well as digital e-book versions. With your support, now, that means an e-book version will be available in the first half of 2014. A print hard copy version will be available by later in 2014.
Without independent funding, neither will be possible.
That is the reality of the economics of publishing quality journalism and first person history in the wake of the collapse of print media business models that have sustained quality journalism until the rise of the digital era, during which a workable business model has yet to emerge to support, fund and sustain investigative reporting.
Here is how you can help accomplish this:
This new website marks the launch of a campaign to raise $67,500
That is a lot of money. It has been carefully calculated to reflect the minimum it will cost to accomplish the following:
The current manuscript requires extensive editing and will result in the creation of two separate print books. One, a more academically focused compilation of the often dry, but critical minutia of the Cambodian contemporary political culture. In addition, there will be an approximately 400 page hardcover book, written in the first person memoir for a broader readership – Sympathy for the Devil.
While written in an accessible readable style, it will be, crucially, a serious history of modern Cambodia with a decided focus on the Khmer Rouge political movement responsible for the deaths of nearly 2 million people in recent years. It is entirely based on my original research and personal interviews and observations and collected documents and other material compiled over more than two decades.
There will also be an eBook of Sympathy for the Devil. This project will also make available for the historical record hundreds of hours of related, un-redacted archive videos, interviews, and transcripts compiled over decades of chronicling Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge and contemporary Cambodian Politics.
It will include hours of raw video and audio interviews of Pol Pot and the entire senior Khmer Rouge leadership.
In the meantime, I am proceeding with the production process. This requires my full-time attention and resources. It also requires the resources to retain the services of a number of skilled people essential to produce the above material. The project needs to secure the expertise of professionals, who, rightfully, need to be paid. They include manuscript editors, graphic artists, and various people with related technical skills for ensuring excellence in quality and presentation of the final product.
For those inclined or able to support the project financially, it is both needed and greatly appreciated. You can make a donation through the ‘shop‘. I am also offering the opportunity to pre-order copies of the book, a series of exclusive signed photographs, exclusive video footage and other material to those generous enough to back me.
In order to succeed, the full funding target goal must be raised. We are hoping to meet the target goal, but significant money, nearly all from my now empty personal cash reserves, have already been spent. Without an immediate infusion of capital I will be forced to suspend the efforts to produce the book in order to meet my basic financial obligations through focusing on obtaining income through other means. The costs are substantial. The details of what it will cost, and the specific funding targeting each aspect of the larger project will be clear and transparent. A detailed accounting of all incoming revenue and all expenditures will be recorded. Records will be kept for all donations, and a budget of expenditures will be maintained and available upon request to anyone who asks for it:
Here is what the project will produce:
• Sympathy for the Devil: A hardcover book, designed for a popular audience, with extensive photographs and documents–which is now more than 800 pages. It is composed entirely of first person original research from my years of reporting from and on Cambodia, with a special focus on Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. It requires a lengthy professional edit to pare it down to approximately 400 pages.
• A more academically oriented book filled with documents, lengthy interviews, and the minutia of the Khmer Rouge internal organization and an explanation from the words of their own leaders of what happened and why. This will include a juxtaposition with other evidence that will keep the book objective and using sound and rigorous methodologies.
• An eBook released for both of the above print edition books in ePub format, good for use with iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Nook, Sony Reader, BeBook and several others. The only major notable device not compatible with ePub is the Amazon Kindle. A Kindle edition will be available later through the Kindle store.
• Scores of hours of raw video and audio interviews of Pol Pot and the entire senior Khmer Rouge leadership who remained alive after they retreated to the jungles in 1979 after their three years in power, all conducted by me and in my personal archives. These include, in addition to a 1 hour and 57 minutes interview professionally filmed, video interviews with Khmer Rouge second in command Nuon Chea, military chief Ta Mok, head of state Khieu Samphan, and the chief executioner in charge of carrying out the political orders of mass executions, Duch, among others.
• Transcripts of these audio and video interviews will also be made available in their entirety. Summarized video presentations and written synopsis’ and analysis articles written by me will be included, but the raw data will also be available so anyone interested can form their own conclusions, if they choose, based on the raw data.
To accomplish this ambitious and time-consuming project will be expensive, require resources and retaining the services of technical experts and professional skills.
Its realization and success depends on your support.
Direct donations of financial support, however small or large, to enable this history to be told and made available, are needed and appreciated. It cannot succeed without support through direct funding. Its success will depend on individuals such as yourself.
Bank account details for wire transfer or direct electronic deposit into the bank account created for funding Sympathy for the Devil are available upon request.
A PayPal donation button is on the upper, right hand column of this page
Tel: 443 225 1498