Intended for Evil: A Survivor's Story of Love, Faith, and Courage in the Cambodian Killing Fields
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Intended for Evil: A Survivor's Story of Love, Faith, and Courage in the Cambodian Killing Fields

Baker Books / 2016 / Paperback

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Product Description

When Khmer Rouge forces take the city of Phnom Penh in 1975, Radha is a new Christian, passionate about living out his faith. Over the next few years of his life, 1.7 million of his fellow Cambodians--including most of his own family--will perish due to starvation, disease and unthinkable violence.

As he strives to hold tight to his faith, he finds that in the midst of hell on earth God has not forgotten him. This compelling true story of survival against incredible odds shows that out of war, fear, despair, and betrayal, God can bring hope, faith, courage and restoration.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 080100909X
ISBN-13: 9780801009099

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Publisher's Description

A True Story of Surviving Genocide and Forging a New Life

When the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh in 1975, new Christian Radha Manickam and his family were among two million people driven out of the city. Over the next four years, 1.7 million people--including most of Radha's family--would perish due to starvation, disease, and horrifying violence. His new faith severely tested, Radha is forced by the communist regime to marry a woman he doesn't know. But through God's providence, he discovers that his new wife is also a Christian. Together they find the courage and hope to survive and eventually make a daring escape to the US, where they raise five children and begin a life-changing ministry to the Khmer people in exile in the US and back home in Cambodia.

This moving true story of survival against all odds shows readers that out of war, fear, despair, and betrayal, God can bring hope, faith, courage, restoration--and even romance.

Author Bio

Les Sillars (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary; PhD, University of Texas at Austin) has been a journalist for over twenty years, seventeen of those with WORLD magazine. He is a journalism professor at Patrick Henry College in Virginia and holds graduate degrees in Old Testament studies and journalism. His writing has also appeared in The Weekly Standard, the National Post, and Touchstone magazine.

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  1. Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Faith, Love, and Courage in the Killing Fields
    January 17, 2017
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    One death is a tragedy.

    One million deaths is a statistic. ~Joseph Stalin

    Banking on this banality of evil, the Khmer Rouge murdered or starved 1.7 million Cambodian citizens during the years in which they were in power, all with an eye toward establishing themselves and their Community ideology. Having wiped out 25% of the population, the Khmer Rouge will go down as historys most totalitarian regime, for even though Mao and Stalin were responsible for more deaths, no dictator has ever destroyed one fourth of its citizens.

    This chilling period of history forms the meta-narrative of Les Sillarss Intended for Evil, but he has brilliantly shared the harrowing story through the eyes of one man, Radha Manickam who survived the Cambodian Killing Fields. Of Indian ethnic descent, Radha was born into a Hindu Brahmin family, but came to faith in Christ as a young man in 1973. Accustomed to a life of plenty, Radhas world turned upside down in 1974 when Phnom Penh, his home city, was caught in the cross fire of the war between Vietnam and the United States. As the violence progressed, the Khmer Rouge gained power, adding to the death and destruction. As refugees streamed into Phnom Penh from surrounding villages, fleeing U.S. bombs and the Khmer Rouges reign of terror, the population more than tripled and food was very scarce.

    Lee Sillarss journalism background is evident in his skillful reconstruction of the political and historical implications of this period, the pointless movement of the masses and the evacuation of entire cities, the irony of communisms rejection of an existing social structure only to create their own class system based on kum, a revenge so brutal that it destroys an enemy so they never can rise again, (79).

    In 1975, year zero of Pol Pots new calendar for a new era, Radha and the entire Manickam family concluded that there was no future for them in Cambodia, and so they joined the current of bodies flowing from their makeshift camps to the next uncertain stopping point. When their passports were confiscated, they learned the folly of trusting Khmer Rouge officials and eventually discerned that any mis-step could have devastating consequences, for even gathering food in the woods to supplement starvation rations was considered a betrayal and, according to Pol Pots brutal rule book, the guilty party will be crushed, (99).

    Weakening the population through starvation was only one technique of the Khmer Rouge. They undermined family bonds by separating relatives whenever possible, and they scorned (and ultimately abolished) all religions, including even those indigenous to Cambodia. Anyone wearing glasses (the sign of an ability to read), possessing an education, owning a business, or practicing a profession was systematically eliminated, leaving behind a bankrupt culture that would take generations to recover.

    Our family was introduced to the regimes lasting effects ten years ago when we hosted a family of missionaries on home assignment following a term in Cambodia. Arriving in our yard, their kids and our kids poured out of vehicles, mixed and mingled, and then headed straight for the woods to pursue adventure. Witness to the stricken look on their mothers face, I was surprised at her explanation:

    Land mines. In Cambodia, the kids cant just go running off into the woods unless there is a well-marked trail. For a minute, I forgot that its o.k. here.

    In that moment, the legacy of Khmer Rouge terror migrated into a back yard in Maine.

    By grace, Radha Manickams life was spared because he was able to persevere in forced labor a city boy, learning by trial and error what to do with the business end of a shovel and how to plant and harvest rice for back-breaking, spirit-crushing hours on end. The soldiers in charge of his work details were essentially a brute squad who subjected workers to unspeakable torture and cruel indignities while overseeing canals that collapsed and agricultural projects that failed abysmally due to mismanagement and ignorance.

    Disease and starvation were all that flourished until the Vietnamese ousted the Khmer Rouge in January 1979. Tragically, most of Radhas extended family had already perished, but grace triumphed when Radha learned that Samen, the wife he had been forced to marry in a mass wedding ceremony (set up to breed the next generation of new socialists), was also a believer. Sponsored by Samens family in the U.S., they made their arduous way to California where they began to heal from the years of devastating loss and began to minister to other victims of the crisis in Cambodia.

    Les Sillarss chosen title, of course, brings to mind the biblical story of Joseph, the refugee, slave, and prisoner who found, at the end of his waiting that God had transformed the evil intentions of his brothers and all of his own suffering into a great good for himself and for the people of Israel. Brought face to face with the unspeakable atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge, I am forced to question the contents of my own heart. After all, the people who were conscripted into service as guards and soldiers were just common peasants and farmers, and following the fall of the Khmer Rouge, most of them went quietly back to their homes and families. There is a sobering subscript to this inspiring story about Radhas God-given courage under extreme circumstances: a society can be plunged into evil by the removal of all that is good, and those surprised by the evil found in human hearts dont yet know themselves, and those terrified by the discovery have not grasped the grace of God.

    Like Joseph, Radha would affirm that his years of suffering are evidence that what evil men intend for harm, God was able to turn upside down for the accomplishment of His purposes and the advancement of His kingdom.

    //

    This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
  2. Deuce Skunks
    Springfield, MO
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Captivating Story Of Human Survival
    November 28, 2016
    Deuce Skunks
    Springfield, MO
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Intended For Evil: A Survivor's Story Of Love, Faith, And Courage In The Cambodian Killing Fields is an intense story of survival recounted by Les Sillars, a journalist and journalism professor in Virginia. In this profound book, Les Sillars shares with us the life of Radha Manickam, a young Christian living in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge took control in the 1970s. Sillars weaves Radha's personal vivid (andfrequently horrifying) memories with well-researched historical information from the area during the same time period.

    This book is a very thorough illustration of what millions of Cambodians lived - and died - through during the reign of the Khmer Rouge throughout Cambodia. Sillars does his best to paint an accurate picture, without trying to make it pretty or undermining the atrocities that occurred. Though it is at times rather dry and slow-paced, reading like areference encyclopedia entry rather than a personal story, this book is by no means for the faint of heart or those lacking the ability to handle the harsh realities of human violence and the struggle for mere survival.

    While this book does recount the worst of what human beings are capable of, it also serves as a very potent reminder to God's enduring love for us and His power to redeem us from even the most vile of circumstances. Though we may struggle to survive what seems like a lost battle, there are countless signs of God's presence and His plan for our lives, if we only choose to listen to His voice when He makes it known.

    Having been born in the 1980s,I cannot attest to the complete accuracy of the history unfolded within the pages of this powerful testimony, but Radha's story is a lesson of faith that I will never forget. Highly recommended to those mature audiences interested in Cambodian history or stories of martyrs and others who have fought for their beliefs. 5/5 stars.

    *Disclaimer: I received a free print edition of this book from Baker Books for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*
  3. bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Good history of Cambodia in the 1970s
    November 23, 2016
    bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Sillars tells the story of Radha Manickam, a victim of the Khmer Rouge.

    Radha had become a Christian in 1973 through an independent missionary teaching English classes. For the three previous years, the U.S. had done intensive bombing in Cambodia aimed at aiding the pro-American Khmer Republic government in a brutal war against Khmer Rouge, communist guerrillas backed by North Vietnam. The Americans ended up officially leaving in 1975.

    Interwoven with the background information about the war is the story of Radha. His whole family was forced to evacuate Phnom Penh when the Khmer Rouge invaded in 1973. They were forced marched to settlements where they were forced to work in cooperatives. Radha saw much horror and thanked God every day for letting him live. They experienced malnutrition. Radha was forced into marriage (and was surprised to later find his wife was a Christian too). They suffered under leadership purges and saw many atrocities. He and his wife survived when the Vietnamese invaded and eventually ended up in a U.N. refugee camp. They later emigrated to America and Radha was involved in ministry to Cambodians in Seattle. He made several visits to Cambodia to minister and connect with his remaining family members.

    I recommend this book to those interested is a very good history of Cambodia in the 1970s. While Radha's story is the main theme of the book, there is a great deal of information about the country during this time. Radha's story is a powerful one of survival, forgiveness and a determination to help Christians remaining in Cambodia.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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