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“Distinguished by its intense dignity, by its unexpected attention to beauty, and by a discretion which never shades into coyness, The Gate should immediately be numbered among the great post-Second World-War memoirs of incarceration.”
—Robert MacFarlane, The Guardian (London)
“Breathtaking . . . Heartbreaking and terrifying: a superb account of the madness of war, and of a people’s wholesale self-destruction.”
In 1971, François Bizot was a young French scholar of Khmer pottery and Buddhist ritual working in rural Cambodia. Now, more than thirty years later, he has summoned up the unbearable memory of that moment, letting us see as never before those years leading inexorably to genocide. The Gate recounts the nightmare of Bizot’s arrest and captivity on suspicion of being an American spy, and his nearly miraculous survival as the only Westerner ever to escape a Khmer Rouge prison. It is the story, as well, of Bizot’s unlikely friendship with his captor, Douch–a figure today better remembered as a ruthless perpetrator of the then-looming terror, about which Bizot tried, without success, to warn his government.