Crossing Three Wildernesses: A Memoir

U Sam Oeur with Ken McCullough
Coffee House Press
Minneapolis, Minnesota
369 pages, paperback
Preface by David Chandler

Cover design by Linda Koutsky
Book design by Allan Kornblum
Cover photo of Angkor Vat from Getty Archives

Author photos by Theodore D. Hall

Available through Coffee House Press,, Alibris and AbeBooks.

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The text was designed by the publisher, Allan Kornblum, who selected Iowan Old Type for the body type because the author’s years in Iowa were among his happiest. The Pompejiana Roman used for display, was adapted from one of the earliest formal Italian handwriting styles. The resemblance of the Roman hand to Hebrew, and to Sanskrit (which influenced the Khmer alphabet) would indicate that all three might have developed from some lost common source, just as genocide itself seems to have developed from some common flaw in humanity, a flaw we must all work to overcome.” –Allan Kornblum

Crossing Three Wildernesses was a 2006 finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in Autobiography, Memoir, and Nonfiction and a finalist for the 2006 Kirayama Prize for Nonfiction.

from the back cover
Dith Pran

U Sam Oeur’s book depicts the Pol Pot era in a new light. Oeur was born in the rice paddies and rose to a position of influence in the government. His book is about the customs and beliefs of everyday Cambodian life. He was sustained by his belief in the democratic ideals he learned while studying in the United States. His book takes the reader from the end of the French Colonial period, through Prince Sihanouk’s efforts to introduce democratic reforms. He explores the failure of the Khmer Republic and the struggle for power after Pol Pot was overthrown. Reading his book is like being there. It is a mixture of Buddhism and democracy. I am very proud of his effort to make the struggles of our country understandable.

Bruce Weigl, author of The Circle of Hanh

U Sam Oeur’s memoir is more than the history of one man’s remarkable life and his struggle to survive the most impossible circumstances perhaps ever contrived. Because we, as Americans, are inextricably bound to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, this book is also a history of all our liuves. Meticulously honest and clear-headed in that dharmic way, Crossing Three Wildernesses will surekly take its place among those books we must read to understand what it means to be fully who we are. This is a trukly brave story, shaped and fine-tuned into an engaging and ultimately moving book.

Painting by Lisa Nankivil for "Obsidian Point" Book Cover

Photos of painting, books and other works by Kathy Greden

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