UPDATE: RRNN won and should be contacted soon.
Excellent new nonfiction from The Atavist: The Accidental Terrorist: A California Accountant’s Coup d’Etat by Adam Piore:
Yasith Chhun was just a 42-year-old accountant living a comfortable life in California. Then he tried to overthrow the Cambodian government from his humble office in Long Beach. Inspired by films like Braveheart, Chhun planned “Operation Volcano,” a scheme replete with espionage, jungle guerrillas, and East German rocket launchers. Could Chhun’s quixotic, incredibly risky and potentially bloody coup possibly succeed? And what happens to a man when he leaves the American immigrant dream behind and turns from upstanding citizen into Colonel Kurtz? Former Newsweek editor Adam Piore tells the story.If you like political intrigue with a hint of farce, you'll love this. Meet the protagonist:
One day the following spring, Chhun was with a group of soldiers, hiding out in the jungle, when local villagers wandered down a trail. One of them was an agent working for another, noncommunist guerilla group. He told Chhun of a secret camp located 60 miles south, near the mountains. Soon after, Chhun slipped away, to make the perilous journey through occupied territory to the border. When he arrived, Chhun was promoted to captain and, he says, “openly declared myself a freedom fighter against communists.” From there he eventually moved on to a United Nations refugee camp, where his path to liberation began.It's available as a text version for Kindle and Nook, and as a multimedia download for iOS.
He arrived in Georgia in 1982, his English still formal and new, with a wife he’d met in a refugee camp and a baby girl in tow. He quickly embraced the American lifestyle. He worked at what he called a salad factory, chopping vegetables, and purchased an old Chevrolet for $500 with his first paycheck. He discovered a passion for American movies—he enjoyed Star Wars and action flicks. Eventually he moved to California and started delivering pizzas. Then he traded up to a job in San Dimas, east of Los Angeles, manufacturing police badges. At night he earned his GED and, eventually, his accounting license.
Along the way, Chhun divorced his wife and quickly took up with a new woman, whom he met on a neighboring treadmill at the local branch of Bally Total Fitness. She was named Sras Pech, had full lips, and proved willing to put in long hours in his tax business.
By the late 1990s, Chhun had a total of four unofficial spouses—a practice frowned upon in much of Cambodia but not unheard of in the countryside—and 10 children who relied on him. One night he was spotted dining with his “wives” and many of his children at an In–N-Out Burger, sparking gossip in Long Beach’s sometimes chatty Cambodian community that has yet to die down. As Chhun later explained it, “I am a polygamist, but none of them are married to me legally. I married them with my heart certificate. It’s between me and God.”
I have one digital copy to give away. For a chance to win, simply comment on this post and include your email so I can contact you if you win. One comment per person, and this contest is open worldwide. I'll pick a winner on Sunday.