The true-life friendship of New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg and his trusted interpreter, Dith Pran, is recounted in this horrifyingly realistic representation of the civil war in Cambodia.  Amidst the terror and confusion of the Vietnam war in the early 1970’s, the small neighboring country of Cambodia is drawn into the strife, with little attention paid to this accidental victim by the “make the world safe for democracy” Americans.  Schanberg and fellow reporters Al Rockoff, John Swain, and Dith Pran, witness numerous bombings, appalling deaths, and the mass chaos of the Khmer Rouge regime before the American military evacuates, knowing full well that Cambodia will eventually destroy itself without any aid.  Pran remains in Cambodia with Schanberg to continue covering the war, aware of the danger that lies ahead if the Khmer Rouge takes him hostage.  Eventually, even Schanberg and the other remaining American reporters are forced to leave or be subject to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.  Schanberg and his friends take great effort to save Pran from his terrible fate, but fail, and Pran is forced to remain in Cambodia.  Pran spends four years trying to survive amidst the brainwashing and genocide of his people while Schanberg is awarded “Journalist of the Year” for both his and Pran’s work in Cambodia.  Schanberg feels guilt for the responsibility he had in Pran’s fate and tries desperately to find and contact his old friend.  Schanberg eventually succeeds, reuniting with the worn, but living, Dith Pran in Cambodia, who has escaped by heroic effort.

Copyright (c) 1999 by Wendy Elizabeth Kuhn, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.

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