As I have written before here, I am a big fan of The Atavist – publisher of longform, non-fiction journalism and features.
The Accidental Terrorist is a quirky story, and ultimately, quite sad. It is about Yasith Chhun, a 42-year-old, Cambodian-born accountant living in California. He tries to overthrow the Cambodian government in the late 1990s from his little office in Long Beach, enlisting an almost rag-tag bunch of “freedom fighters” for “Operation Volcano”. Former Newsweek editor and freelance journalist Adam Piore brings this espionage, action story to life for readers.
With the added features of The Atavist like photos, timelines, supporting and complementary news articles, history explanations etc, the reader really gets the sense of the complicated and brutal politics and history of Cambodia.
On one hand, it is entirely understandable that this type of thing could happen – many Cambodians experienced unspeakable brutality at the hands of Pol Pot. Also interwoven in the story is the events of September 11, 2001 that changed the world.
It poses the question as well, what is a terrorist? Are there degrees of terrorism?
I was also really inspired to learn more about Cambodian politics from this piece but the timeline and information in it give a great background and overview.
The Accidental Terrorist by Adam Piore is available for iThings, nook, Kindle. The version with the full suite of features is $2.99.