Mr. Kamm later wrote two books about Asia. In “Dragon Ascending: Vietnam and the Vietnamese” (1996), he portrayed a nation struggling under communism and recapitulated its war with the United States in the perspective of a 4,000-year history.
His book “Cambodia: Report From a Stricken Land” (1998) traced that nation’s descent into barbarity, from the murder of millions of its own citizens by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s through the decades of economic and social suffering that followed.
“Kamm’s account of Cambodia’s long tragedy is spare, blunt and angry,” Arnold R. Isaacs wrote in The New York Times Book Review. “Based almost entirely on his own reporting, it draws little if any material from the work of other journalists and historians. That this turns out to be a strength, not a weakness, is a tribute to the quality of Kamm’s journalism over the years.”
He was born Hans Kamm in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw in Poland) on June 3, 1925, to Rudolf and Paula (Wischnewski) Kamm. The boy grew up fluent in German.
His Jewish father was arrested in Nazi roundups of Jews following the events of Kristallnacht in November 1938, but was released from the Buchenwald concentration camp on condition that he leave Germany, which he did in May 1939, making his way to England and the United States, where he settled. Hans and his mother, after a long, fearful wait for visas in Breslau, crossed Europe in a sealed train to Portugal and reached New York on a Portuguese ship in 1941.
Hans attended George Washington High School in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan and learned English. In 1943, he was naturalized as an American citizen under the name Henry Kamm. Turning 18, he enlisted in the World War II Army and fought the Germans in Belgium and France, where he learned French.
Discharged in 1946, he attended New York University and graduated in 1949 with a degree in English. Impressed by his knowledge of foreign affairs and language skills, The Times hired him as a copy boy.