Elizabeth Becker

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Elizabeth Becker February 2015.jpg

Elizabeth Becker (born October 28, 1947) is an American author and journalist who covered national and international affairs as a New York Times correspondent and was a member of the staff that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. She was the Senior Foreign Editor of National Public Radio where she received two DuPont-Columbia Awards as executive producer for reporting of South Africa's first democratic elections and the Rwanda genocide. She began her career as a war correspondent for The Washington Post covering Cambodia. She is the author of When the War Was Over, a modern history of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, for which she won a Robert F. Kennedy book citation.

In December 1978 Becker was a member, with Malcolm Caldwell and Richard Dudman, of the only group of Western journalists and writers invited to visit Cambodia since the Khmer Rouge had taken power in April 1975. The three visitors were given a highly structured tour of the country: "We traveled in a bubble," wrote Becker, "No one was allowed to speak to me freely." On December 22, Caldwell had a private audience with Pol Pot, the leader of Cambodia. After the meeting, he came back in a mood described as "euphoric" to the guest house in Phnom Penh where the three were staying. About 11:00 p.m. that night Becker was awakened by the sound of gunfire. She stepped out of her bedroom and saw a heavily armed Cambodian man who pointed a pistol at her. She ran back into her room and heard people moving and more gunshots. An hour later a Cambodian came to her bedroom door and told her that Caldwell was dead. She and Dudman went to his room. He had been shot in the chest and the body of a Cambodian man was also in the room, possibly the same man who had pointed the pistol at Becker.[1]

The Financial Times said of her book that "Becker writes history as history should be written."[2] Rithy Panh made the documentary film "Bophana" based on an excerpt of the book. She was the 2008 Edelman fellow at Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government.

She is the author of "Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism." She is also the author of "America's Vietnam War: A Narrative History for young adults" and "Bophana," which is only available in Cambodia. Her early investigation of the Khmer Rouge was detailed in "A Problem from Hell; America in the Age of Genocide" by Samantha Power.

In February 2015 she appeared as an expert witness before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in the trial of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.[3]

Becker holds a degree in Indian studies from the University of Washington and did language studies at the Kendriya Hindi Sansthaan in Agra, India.

She is married to William L. Nash a retired United States Army Major General.

Selected works[edit]

  • When the War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1986. ISBN 0-671-41787-8. OCLC 13334079.
  • America's Vietnam War: A Narrative History. New York: Clarion Books. 1992. ISBN 0-395-59094-9. OCLC 24795769.
  • Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2013. ISBN 9781439160992. OCLC 800024781.
  • You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War. PublicAffairs. 2021. ISBN 1541768205.


  1. ^ Becker, Elizabeth, When the War was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution New York: Public Affairs Books, 1998, pp. 426–430
  2. ^ "Elizabeth Becker – Journalist and Author". Clinton Global Initiative Speakers – Bios. Retrieved December 25, 2005.[dead link]
  3. ^ Shaun Turton (February 10, 2015). "Becker recounts Pol Pot meeting". The Phnom Penh Post.

External links[edit]