A Tiger Rules the Mountain

The world's longest serving Prime Minister and Cambodia's pursuit of democracy

Taking A Tiger to Cambodia

When writing A Tiger, I would return to Cambodia every year, sometimes more frequently, to interview people. This went on for many years and during this time, some of them got married, some became parents, some of them turned grey, and I imagined they all must have wondered when I would ever finish this book I kept on talking to them about.

Talking to them for hours at a time, I would ask them to share their deepest fears and secret hopes, hoping that they would trust me with them, and trust that I would present them faithfully. I got to know many very well and, for me, A Tiger is as much about the people as it is the politics of Cambodia.

I returned to Cambodia in December to give copies of the book to those who feature, as the book really belongs to them not me. I felt nervous each time I handed a book over, afraid that they would be disappointed in what I had done with their stories or how I wrote about their lives. Thankfully, I’ve only had people hugging the book, delighted to hold it.

One person messaged me the next day to say that her husband thought I had managed to describe the essence of her character and personality perfectly. Another said that having read the book, they were glad and relieved that they, eventually, agreed to speak to me. A government official told me he liked the front cover and started skimming through it.

I also had some meetings talking about the book and issues covered in it, including with the Australian Ambassador and embassy staff, the British Ambassasdor and embassy staff, Future Forum Asia (think tank) and the youth forum Politikoffee. The book is now for sale in Monument Books in Cambodia and I even sold one on the bus to a fellow passenger who saw the front cover when I was getting it out and asked if he could get one as he is from the same village Hun Sen was born in. He got a special fellow travellers price of $5!

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