That is the new and excellent book by Sebastian Strangio, which you can think of as a post-Sihanouk look at the country from a political economy point of view. Here are just a few bits:
The cruelty and callousness that allowed jilted wives to order and commit such brutal attacks on young women also had its echo in history. As the historian Michael Vickery has written, patterns of sudden and extreme violence had deep roots in Cambodia, especially against those groups and individuals defined in some way as enemies. Through cruel violence found its fullest expressions under Pol Pot, it long predated Democratic Kampuchea, stemming from cultural notions of face, honor, and revenge, in which personal grudges (kum) could elicit a disproportionate and overwhelming response.
Hun Sen’s rise over the past two decades has been accompanied by the rise of what might be called HunSenomics — a blend of old-style patronage, elite charity, and predatory market economics. Since the transition to the free market in 1989, Hunsenomics has succeeded in forging a stable pact among Cambodia’s ruling elites, but has otherwise done little to systematically tackle the challenges of poverty and development.
Because Hunsenomics provides few incentives for sustainable agricultural development, Cambodia’s land and water resources remain drastically underutilized. Just a third of Cambodia’s total land area is currently under cultivation — a much lower proportion than in neighboring countries. Only 18 percent of this land was irrigated as of 2005, compared to 33 percent in Thailand and 44 percent in Vietnam, and due to lack of maintenance only a fifth of irrigation systems were fully functional. As a result, rice yields per hectare lag far behind the likes of Vietnam and Thailand.
Definitely recommended, and as Dan Klein and I used to say to each other “You so much learn the whole book.”