Book Reviews

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Cambodian Interlude

Inside the 1993 United Nations’ Election

Tom Riddle

1997, 2000, 210 pp., 20 b & w plates. 21.5 x 15.2 cm., Softbound.

ISBN-10: 974-8299-36-8 $20.00
ISBN-13: 978-974-8299-36-5

Love & Election

Inside the United Nations’ 1993 Election
Book review by Daniel Cooper

(Farang Magazine, November 2004)

While many expatriates produce books about a chapter of their travels that are boring and poorly written, Tom Riddle’s Cambodian Interlude: Inside the United Nations’ 1993 Election (Orchid Press, 2000) keeps the reader flipping the page well after lights out. It follows the author, who joins UN Volunteers and is sent to Cambodia to help people use computers during Cambodia’s first election in living memory. Once there he has adventures in the countryside, hangs out in Phnom Penh and ends up supervising a data-entry centre.
    Lacking Cambodia’s usual suspects of guns, girls and ganga, the book’s value is in Riddle’s humour and observations on the inner workings of the UN’s largest-ever project. There is not much dialogue but it is hilarious for its staccato delivery and dry wit.
    Once the scene is set the book starts to heat up as the story moves closer to the election date and Riddle’s relationship with Sovan, a returning Khmer, spirals closer to its climax. The writer’s knack for storytelling and expert pacing makes Cambodian Interlude a great read until the last page. Definitely worth picking up.

[Read a review from Pacific Affairs] [More Orchid Press Reviews]