Understanding Pol Pot?

Philip Short has a new book on Pol Pot. Through some interesting arrangement of the stars, William T. Vollmann is reviewing it. As to understanding Pol Pot, Vollmann poses an interesting question:

Could it be that because Pol Pot identified himself so thoroughly with his revolution, there was no him for us to know? Isaac Deutscher’s biography of Stalin, and Alan Bullock’s of Hitler, manage to ”bring alive” tyrants whose personal lives were banal. Perhaps the problem is that Pol Pot was mediocre in almost every sphere: a failed technical student, an uninspired military leader who wasted the lives of his troops in badly planned offensives and ignored emergencies, a misguided ruler. In sum, Pol Pot would exert little claim on our attention were it not for the fact that millions died through his cruelty and incompetence. In ”Brother Number One,” Chandler admits defeat at the outset: ”I was able to build up a consistent, but rather two-dimensional picture. . . . As a person, he defies analysis.”