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The Elimination

Written by Rithy Panh & Christophe Bataille | Translated by John Cullen | February 2013
The Elimination: A Survivor of the Khmer Rouge Confronts His Past and the Commandant of the Killing Fields
Other Press | February 2013

From the internationally acclaimed director of S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, a survivor’s autobiography that confronts the evils of the Khmer Rouge dictatorship.

Rithy Panh was only thirteen years old when the Khmer Rouge expelled his family from Phnom Penh in 1975. In the months and years that followed, his entire family was executed, starved, or worked to death. Thirty years later, after having become a respected filmmaker, Rithy Panh decides to question one of the men principally responsible for the genocide, Comrade Duch, who’s neither an ordinary person nor a demon—he’s an educated organizer, a slaughterer who talks, forgets, lies, explains, and works on his legacy. This confrontation unfolds into an exceptional narrative of human history and an examination of the nature of evil.
The Elimination stands among the essential works that document the immense tragedies of the twentieth century, with Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man and Elie Wiesel’s Night.

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“The power of The Elimination lies in the telling details Mr. Panh employs to describe the madness of these years, when the Khmer Rouge worked to destroy every vestige of individuality... a searing, firsthand account of the Cambodian genocide and as such an important contribution to the history of those years. It is also an examination of the nature of evil as told from the perspectives of a victim and a perpetrator.” —Wall Street Journal

"Like no other book, The Elimination reminds us why it is crucial to study history, why education should be a nation’s highest priority, and why nothing is more important than culture and the arts. Masterfully written with the language and pacing necessary to tell such a story, The Elimination needs to be read by anyone who reads books—and more importantly, by those who don’t." - The Coffin Factory
“An exceptional document of Primo Levi’s caliber … Rithy Panh’s book, The Elimination, through its strength, the starkness of its language, and the depths of its mystery, shows its significance.” - Elle

"Harrowing personal reflections by the Cambodian French filmmaker of surviving the Khmer Rouge as a young teenager...A riveting, intimate look deep inside the machinery of the executioner." - Kirkus

“In this astounding work, Rithy Panh presents the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime as universal human history, intelligible to us all thanks to the extraordinary efforts of an individual.” - Timothy Snyder, bestselling author of Bloodlands

Article originally published by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States on

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