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Imperfect memories and conflation are among the most intriguing products of his two-year, four-continent investigation. Foxy Ladywill appeal to students of Asian history, political psychology, and conflict studies.

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This is an investigative journalist's account of one of history's most intriguing footnotes: Foxy Lady chronicles the life and times of the Canadian, Stuart Robert Glass -- his restless youth in British Columbia; his travels across Europe, North Africa and Asia; his forays into drug smuggling; his brutal death on board a little yacht called Foxy Lady. As Stuart's life unfolds, Foxy Lady charts the course of a parallel universe - Pol Pot and his gang boring their way to power.

It was Duch who conveyed the orders that Stuart's pals and the other yachtsmen should be killed and their bodies burned to ashes.

Duch was the first Khmer Rouge leader to be tried for his crimes, by an international tribunal in Phnom Penh. Having stumbled on the story of murdered Stuart Glass, the author travels to Cambodia to watch Duch testify; interview former Tuol Sleng guards and investigate the death of the 'Western' yachtsmen. But 'truth' is elusive. Foxy Lady will appeal to students of Asian history, political psychology and conflict studies.

Democratic Kampuchea was forced into a radical revolution. Year Zero was announced - the beginning of a new age. A classless society was declared. Schools and hospitals were closed. The financial sector was eliminated — no banks, no currency, no finance. Private property was abolished.

Everything was collectivised — mostly agricultural communes. People were forced — marched — out of the cities into the countryside.

Collective farms were run with forced labour by people who knew nothing about agriculture. People were driven to exhaustion and then died easily of disease or starvation. But the first part of the book is focused on the early life of Stuart, growing up in British Columbia.

Kattenburg interviewed his mother and members of the extended family. So he started to travel. He went to England, met a young woman who was also attracted to a life of travel and adventure — Susan Everard. Stuart made visits down to Morocco, and started smuggling hashish back to England.

Again, the detail is immense; and coming at this stuff for the first time, it is difficult to follow the author's endless descriptions of the machinations amongst the various groups of Khmer Rouge leadership, at the local, regional and national levels. One can see the strategy at work here: It also breaks up the dry stuff into more manageable chunks. But as Kattenburg starts to rely more and more on the testimony that Duch gave to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a judicial body convened eventually to investigate the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge leadership, one starts to worry about the reliability of the evidence.

No wonder the author ponders issues of Truth and Memory in the book's closing pages. In some ways the book becomes as much about Duch as it is about Stuart Glass and the other yachtsmen.

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The prose is clean and taut, and the style is good — although the author might want to check out the proper use of the semi-colon! There are some compelling sections in the book - the account of Glass's and Hamill's stay on Phuket Island is particularly interesting.

Baugh's Blog: Book Review: "Foxy Lady" by David Kattenburg

And the closing sections, where Kattenburg seeks out former S guards, is gripping - although ultimately inconclusive. He has shaped the story 'architecturally' to present it to its best advantage.


  • David Kattenburg (Author of Foxy Lady).
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Despite my reservations about the historical sections, the book is well organised and well thought-out. But the structure can't get away from the fact that the book's main protagonist, Stuart Glass, disappears from the stage two-thirds of the way through the book. And of this main character, one is left with the sense that the story here is more about an average Joe, notable not for anything remarkable that he did or achieved during his life, but simply that he and his friends were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They died a senseless, cruel death at the hands of an insane, murderous regime. But Kattenburg has certainly memorialised them in a sympathetic and admirable fashion.

What can I do to prevent this in the future?

I think with judicious and critical editing it could be even better. Regardless, it's a book I recommend.


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  5. If you're interested in the history of Cambodia, you'll be captivated. If you can imagine yourself as a late-twenties hippy adventurer coming into a calamitous collision with an evil political despotism, this is an exciting story worth checking out. Posted by Clive Baugh at Southerner 10 February at Newer Post Older Post Home.

    Part 61 Democratic Kampuchea

    Kerry Hamill - tortured and executed in S John Dewhirst - tortured and executed in S