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A History of Laos [Paperback]

by Martin Stuart-Fox
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 28, 1997 0521597463 978-0521597463
This authoritative and wide-ranging history focuses on the period from the founding of modern Laos as a French colony to its independence, involvement in the war in Vietnam, the formation of the communist republic, and the present authoritarian government. The author shows how the nationalist struggle for independence and unity was subverted by foreign intervention, and how the country has now resumed its traditional role as a neutral state in Southeast Asia. This book provides essential background on modern Laos and the challenges it now faces.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A more developed nationalistic historiography will provide ideological support for an inclusive national identity. Stuart-Fox's book is a significant step in that direction for the most poorly developed national historiography in Southeast Asia. Choice

"...a significant contribution to our understanding of the tumultuous history of modern Laos." Steven H. Lee, International Journal

"This brief and readable book belongs on the shelf of anyone concerned with modern Laos." David K. Wyatt, Journal of Asian Studies

"He writes with consistent, readable grace. He has succeeded, perhaps for the first time, finally in making modern (recent) Lao hsitory understandable and believable. This brief and readable book belongs on the shelf of anyone concerned with modern Laos." David K. Wyatt, The Journal of Asian Studies

"...Stuart-Fox has produced a coherent, logically organized, well-documented, and readable narrative of modern Lao history. His work is the best account of modern Lao....The book will no doubt lead to a better understanding of Lao political dynamics, and it should serve as a guide for future scholars who wish to delve deeper into the rich history Laos." Richard B. Verrone, Crossroads

Book Description

This authoritative and wide-ranging history focuses on the period from the founding of modern Laos as a French colony to its independence, involvement in the war in Vietnam, the formation of the communist republic, and the present authoritarian government. The author shows how the nationalist struggle for independence and unity was subverted by foreign intervention, and how the country has now resumed its traditional role as a neutral state in Southeast Asia. This book provides essential background on modern Laos and the challenges it now faces.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521597463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521597463
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but more academic than I was hoping for. October 15, 1999
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is bascially a mid-upper division college text on the development of Modern Laos from the 1800's to the present. A fine book on the recent history of Laos, the author strives to be fair and evenhanded in placing responsibility for the various troubles plaguing the country. However, I would have liked more general background on the country, especially the history that predated European contact. Only the history necessary to explain some modern interactions is present from that period. More maps and figures would have been nice as well. Only four maps and no figures are present, and the author refers to many locations that aren't listed explictly on the maps. The type is set rather close as well, making for a bit of a strain in reading. That said, the information was well laid out and seemed very well researched. I learned a great deal about the development of modern Laos.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive modern history August 6, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Martin Stuart-Fox has produced a concise, comprehensive account of Lao history, with emphasis on the revolutionary and post-revolutionary eras. Stuart-Fox is arguably the leading English-language expert on the history of Laos, and this work proves it; his book is meticulously researched and skillfully written.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A detailed history, but needs updating April 12, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stuart-Fox does a good job providing a one-volume history on Laos. His chapter on the Indochina War is especially good and provides insight into how and why the Communists won. Stuart-Fox frames Lao history in the context of a country that never became a nation. He shows how the lack of national identity hurt Laos at key points in history and allowed the Pathet Lao, the first political group to propose a convincing national identity that included the ethnic minorities, to recruit supporters. He also shows how patronage networks quickly overcame post-independence Lao politics.

Despite the fact that the book is worth getting for Southeast Asia scholars, I gave this book a relatively low rating for two reasons:

First, it almost ignores post-war history. Stuart-Fox does a great job discussing French colonials, independence, and the war, but after that he only addresses current issues in the abstract. For a book published in 2008, it certainly should have addressed modern politics. For example, reading this book, one would not know anything about the current Lao leadership.

Second, the typeface and spacing are small, making the book difficult to read at times.

Fortunately, both of these issues can be easily addressed in a new edition, which I certainly hope comes out.
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