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It’s hard to say anything nice about former Khmer Rouge despot Pol Pot. But that means that there is all kinds of shady fodder for a biography, and Philip Short’s Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare takes full advantage of that. The author—who last wrote 800 pages on Chairman Mao—goes into great detail in describing what one Yugoslav visitor described as the Khmer’s “irrational radicalism” and its demise. That Pol’s revolution was a bloody one—leaving a million-and-a-half Cambodians dead in its wake—isn’t news, nor is the fact that without American involvement in Southeast Asia, it might not have gotten as far as it did. But Short’s comprehensive, readable untangling of the paranoid web that entrapped so many Cambodian people is certainly enlightening. Short reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Mike Kanin)