Benedict F. "Ben" Kiernan (born 1953 in Melbourne) is the Whitney
Griswold Professor of History, Professor of International and Area
Studies and Director of the
Genocide Studies Program at Yale
2 Select publications and awards
3 Criticism of Kiernan's scholarship
4 Selected bibliography
6 External links
In his early twenties, Kiernan visited
Cambodia but left before the
Khmer Rouge expelled all foreigners in 1975. Though he initially
doubted the scale of genocide then being perpetrated in Democratic
Kampuchea, he changed his mind in 1978 after beginning a
series of interviews with several hundred refugees from Cambodia. He
learnt the Khmer language, carried out research in
Cambodia and among
refugees abroad, and has since written many books on the topic.
From 1980 onwards, Kiernan worked with
Gregory Stanton to bring the
Khmer Rouge to international justice. He obtained his PhD from Monash
University, Australia in 1983 under the supervision of David P.
Chandler. He joined the Yale History Department in 1990, and founded
the award-winning Cambodian
Genocide Program at the Yale Center for
International and Area Studies in 1994, and the comparative Genocide
Studies Program in 1998. Kiernan currently teaches history courses on
Southeast Asia, the
Vietnam War and genocides through the ages.
In 1995 a
Khmer Rouge court indicted, tried and sentenced Kiernan
in-absentia for "prosecuting and terrorizing the Cambodian resistance
Select publications and awards
His 2007 book, Blood and Soil: A World History of
Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (
Yale University Press), received
the 2008 gold medal from the US Independent Publishers Association for
the best work of History published in 2007, and the German Studies
Association's biennial Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize for
the best book published in 2007 or 2008 dealing with Nazi Germany and
the Holocaust in its broadest context, covering the fields of history,
political science, and other social sciences, literature, art, and
In June 2009, the book's German translation, Erde und Blut:
Völkermord und Vernichtung von der Antike bis heute, won first place
in Germany’s Nonfiction Book of the Month Prize (Die Sachbücher des
Criticism of Kiernan's scholarship
Kiernan's work before 1978, especially his work with the publication
News from Kampuchea, was criticised as pro-Khmer Rouge. (See Cambodian
While Kiernan has become a critic of
Khmer Rouge behaviour, Peter
Rodman states that "When Hanoi turned publicly against Phnom Penh, it
suddenly became respectable for many on the Left to "discover" the
murderous qualities of the Khmer Rouge-qualities that had been obvious
to unbiased observers for years. Kiernan fits this pattern nicely. His
book even displays an eagerness to absolve of genocidal responsibility
those members of the
Khmer Rouge who defected to Hanoi and were later
reinstalled in power in Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese invasion of
Cambodia in 1978."
In 1994, Kiernan was awarded a $499,000 grant by Congress to help the
Cambodian government document the Khmer Rouge's abuses. Stephen J.
Morris, at the time a research associate in the department of
government at Harvard University cited statements Kiernan had made
Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. In an opinion piece in the
Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal Morris claimed that Kiernan's earlier opinions
made him a poor choice to study
Khmer Rouge abuses. Gerard Henderson,
executive director of Australia's
Sydney Institute stated that Kiernan
had "barracked for the
Khmer Rouge when the Cambodian killing fields
were choked with corpses". The Morris article was challenged by 29
Cambodia specialists who praised Kiernan as "a first-rate historian
and an excellent choice for the State Department grant".
Kiernan, Ben (December 1976). "Social Cohesion in Revolutionary
Cambodia". Australian Outlook.
Kiernan, Ben (October–December 1979). "Vietnam and the Governments
and People of Kampuchea". Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars.
Kiernan, Ben & Boua, Chanthou (1981). Peasants and Politics in
Kampuchea, 1942–1981. Zed Books Ltd.
Kiernan, Ben (2004) . How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism,
Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930–1975. Yale University
Press. ISBN 0-300-10262-3.
Kiernan, Ben (1986). Cambodia: The Eastern zone Massacres.
Kiernan, Ben (1986). Cambodge: Histoire et enjeux.
Kiernan, Ben (2002) . The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power and
Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975–1979. Yale
University Press. ISBN 0-300-09649-6.
Kiernan, Ben (1998). Le Génocide au Cambodge, 1975–1979: Race,
idéologie, et pouvoir.
Kiernan, Ben (2007). Blood and Soil: A World History of
Extermination from Sparta to Darfur.
Yale University Press.
Kiernan, Ben (2007).
Genocide and Resistance in Southeast Asia:
Documentation, Denial, and Justice in
Cambodia and East Timor.
Transaction Publishers. ISBN 1-4128-0668-2.
Kiernan, Ben (2017). Viet Nam: A History from Earliest Times to the
Present. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190627300.
^ Kiernan, Benedict (17 November 1978). "Why's Kampuchea Gone to
Pot?". Nation Review (Melbourne).
^ Kiernan, Benedict (October–December 1979). "Vietnam and the
Governments and People of Kampuchea". Bulletin of Concerned Asian
^ Shawcross, William (1984). The Quality of Mercy – Cambodia,
Holocaust and Modern Conscience. Simon and Schuster, New York.
^ "Profile of Ben Kiernan".
Yale University Department of History.
Retrieved 7 September 2016. His undergraduate courses include
Southeast Asia from Earliest Times to 1900, Southeast Asia since 1900,
Vietnamese History from Earliest Times, The Vietnam War, Environmental
History of Southeast Asia, and graduate seminars on the Vietnam War
and on various aspects of the history of genocide.
^ Kiernan, Ben. The Pol Pot Regime. p. xxv.
^ "2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards Results". Retrieved 7
^ "2009 Sybil Halpern Milton Prize Winner". Retrieved 7 December
2009. [permanent dead link]
^ "Sachbücher des Monats Juni 2009". Archived from the original on 28
December 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
^ Morris, Stephen (17 April 1995). "The Wrong Man to Investigate
Cambodia". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 7 July
^ Gunn, Geoffrey (1991).
Cambodia Watching Down Under. Bangkok:
Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University.
^ Grantsmanship & the Killing Fields; Peter W. Rodman; Commentary
Magazine; March 1996
^ Patrick Dilger; Back to the "Killing Fields" Archived 26 May 2007 at
the Wayback Machine. Yale Alumni Magazine, April 1996
Kiernan's bio at Yale
ISNI: 0000 0001 1024 5376
BNF: cb119097379 (data)