King Norodom’s Head

Phnom Penh Sights Beyond the Guidebooks

Steven W. Boswell

Available from NIAS Press worldwide

• A travel guide for Phnom Penh that starts where other guides leave off.

• A seriously researched book that wears its learning lightly.

• Targets ordinary visitors and the specialist, thinking type of traveller.

King Norodom’s Head deals with sights of Phnom Penh rarely found in guidebooks. This is not, therefore, a guidebook with walking tours of the town. There are no detailed descriptions of the Royal Palace, National Museum, or Khmer Rouge’s infamous S-21 detention-cum-torture centre, though all these places make appearances in the book. Rather, the reader will learn of the gold of King Ang Duong and of Madame Chum’s infamous opium den, the story behind the mysterious Frenchman buried on Wat Phnom’s hill, and the secret reason behind Jackie Kennedy’s 1967 trip to Cambodia.

Each chapter centres on a site that can be visited, someplace or something that can be seen and often touched. The hope is that together these chapters will give the reader an appreciation of a number of the more obscure or little reported places in the city and of the stories and history associated with them. If this book encourages visitors to spend an extra day here and inspires residents to stroll their city’s streets more than they normally would, it will have achieved its purpose.

I retired from Royal University of Phnom Penh, where I was given the grandiose title of adjunct professor in English, in 2009. By that time I was planning on staying here indefinitely. When you live here as long as I have and you retire, I like to say you have two options: open a bar or write a book. I used all these notes that I’d been taking over the years and sat down to complete it. It’s taken me a long time.

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by Chris Taylor
From journal:
http://slice-siemreap.com/culture/books/book-king-norodoms-head/

"(…) King Norodom’s Head is a tapestry of anecdotal colonial-era gems woven together with temple-spotter minutiae. Featuring copious black-and-white and colour photographs, it works well as a pick-and-choose, dip-into-and-read compendium of Phnom Penh esoterica."

"(…) King Norodom’s Head is a tapestry of anecdotal colonial-era gems woven together with temple-spotter minutiae. Featuring copious black-and-white and colour photographs, it works well as a pick-and-choose, dip-into-and-read compendium of Phnom Penh esoterica."

"In other words, King Norodom’s Head, cumulatively more than lives up to its "beyond the guidebooks" subtitle."

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