Steven W. Boswell
King Norodom’s Head deals with sights of Phnom Penh rarely found in guidebooks. This is not, therefore, a guidebook with walking tours of the town. There are no detailed descriptions of the Royal Palace, National Museum, or Khmer Rouge’s infamous S-21 detention-cum-torture centre, though all these places make appearances in the book. Rather, the reader will learn of the gold of King Ang Duong and of Madame Chum’s infamous opium den, the story behind the mysterious Frenchman buried on Wat Phnom’s hill, and the secret reason behind Jackie Kennedy’s 1967 trip to Cambodia. Each chapter centres on a site that can be visited, someplace or something that can be seen and often touched. The hope is that together these chapters will give the reader an appreciation of a number of the more obscure or little reported places in the city and of the stories and history associated with them. If this book encourages visitors to spend an extra day here and inspires residents to stroll their city’s streets more than they normally would, it will have achieved its purpose.