Shadow Over Angkor
by Sihanouk Norodom & Julio A. Jeldres
First part of King Norodom Sihanouk's memoirs
Publisher: Monument Books | Proofreading by Darryl Collins. Foreword by King Norodom Sihamoni.
Edition: Vol I. of King Sihanouk's Memoir.
Language : English
ADB Library Catalog ID: ROY107
Collected from conversations and personal papers by Ambassador Julio A. Jeldres, the King of Cambodia's Private Secretary for many years, this is a documented account of domestic political tension and complex navigation on an international scene dominated by the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Among a rich corpus of notations on internal and international politics, one chapter is poetically titled "Voir Angkor et mourir", To See Angkor and Die! (which was to be also the title of the King's 1993 feature movie).
Excerpts: "See Angkor and die! Yes, as a poet expressed it so well on an Angkorian stele: "My eyes, you may close... for that charming being will never for a moment be absent from my thoughts ... ". The Angkorian poet was in love with an Apsara (heavenly dancing girl). All Khmers are in love with Angkor. They may disagree and tear each other apart. Each clique wishes to have its own 'national flag but Angkor Wat, the purest gem of Angkor, remains for ever engraved on their hearts, on their minds and on the flags of the White Khmers (royalists, neutralists), the Blue Khmers (pro-American republicans) and the Red Khmers (pro-Chinese), and of the communist pro-Vietnamese, pro-Soviet Khmers (pp 182-183).
On the perilous journey to the "liberated zone of Cambodia" in March 1973, see the lively account Queen Mother Monineath (then Princess Monique) has given in her Witness to History (Phnom Penh, 2021). About the periple, King Sihanouk wil remark, quite tongue-in-cheek: "Once we had reached Cambodian territory we experienced, at all hours of the day and night, fierce but happily ineffective bombings and machine gunnings, by Mr. Nixon's airforce."
About the Authors
HM Norodom Sihanouk នរោត្តម សីហនុ (31 October 1922, Phnom Penh, Cambodia – 15 October 2012, Beijing, China) was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and from 1993 to 2004. Affectionately known to the Cambodian people as Samdech Euv (សម្តេចឪ, Father Prince), he masterminded the independence from the French colonial rule in 1953, inspired the creative Golden Age of the young country and was instrumental to national reconciliation after the US-crafted coup d'etat by General Lon Nol, the Khmer Rouge brutal rule and the Vietnamese intervention.
Cambodian photographer Kim Hak has devoted a book to the collective mourning surrounding King Sihanouk's passing away in 2012.
Julio A. Jeldres
Ambassador Julio Armando Jeldres (b. 1 Dec. 1950, Santiago de Chile) was a teenager in faraway Chile when, in 1967, he wrote directly to the King Palace of Cambodia wanting to know more about the fascinating Kingdom at the other end of the world. An epistolary relationship started, until the young Chilean met with King Norodom Sihanouk in Pyongyang at the start of the 1990s, becoming His Majesty's personal secretary from 1981 to 1991, and Official Biographer since 1993.
With a PhD in History from Monash University (2015), Julio Jeldres authored in 2003, amongst several books and essays, "The Royal House of Cambodia", a reference on all things royal in Cambodia. An updated edition was released in January 2018. Since 2013, he serves as a Counsellor to the Cabinet of HM King Sihamoni with rank of Minister of State, and remains a close adviser to HM the Queen Mother Norodom Monineath.
A specialist in the history of Cambodia's diplomacy, he has studied the development of the Cambodian stance on neutrality and non-alignment, and authored an insightful study on the special relationship between the late King Norodom Sihanouk and and China's Foreign Minister Zhou En Lai.
A Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Phnom Penh Sleuk Rith Institute of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, Ambassador Jeldres contributed to the installation of the Queen Mother's Library at the Royal Palace, which opened in 2021 (open to the public since June 2022).
In June 2022, Julio Jeldres honored Angkor Database by donating part of his personal book collection and archive to ADB library in Siem Reap.
A portrait by Loeung Yongsoeng, 2021
Read a bioportrait by Brent Crane in The Phnom Penh Post (2016), 'Sihanouk and the Teen from Santiago'.