The Gate

Publisher: Vintage
In 1971 a young French ethnologist named Francois Bizot was taken prisoner by forces of the Khmer Rouge who kept him chained in a jungle camp for months before releasing him. Four years later Bizot became the intermediary between the now victorious Khmer Rouge and the occupants of the besieged French embassy in Phnom Penh, eventually leading a desperate convoy of foreigners to safety across the Thai border.

Out of those ordeals comes this transfixing book. At its center lies the relationship between Bizot and his principal captor, a man named Douch, who is today known as the most notorious of the Khmer Rouge’s torturers but who, for a while, was Bizot’s protector and friend. Written with the immediacy of a great novel, unsparing in its understanding of evil, The Gate manages to be at once wrenching and redemptive.


Chapter One

FROM AMONG MY MEMORIES there comes up today the image of a gate. It appears before me and I recognize the pathetic hinge which was both a beginning and an end in my life. It is made of two swinging panels, which haunt my dreams, and wire mesh welded onto a tubular frame. It closed off the main entrance...
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“A harrowing narrative, worthy of a novel by Graham Greene or John le Carré… [It] possesses the indelible power of a survivor’s testimony.” --The New York Times

“It possesses such truth of feeling, such clarity and conviction of narrative, such a wealth of image and adventure, and such depths of long-held passion that I do believe it is indeed that rarest thing: a classic.” – John le Carré , from the Foreword

“A deeply unsettling account of a particular ordeal that suggests larger questions: the moralities of power's ends and means, the character of revolutionary fanaticism and the indecipherable humanity that flickers within it. . . . by turns evocative, wise and crisscrossed by fury.” – The New York Times Book Review

“[A] fascinating book, to say the least. Passages of The Gate are riveting, some scenes heartbreaking.” –The Wall Street Journal