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Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War (New Perspectives in Se Asian Studies) 2, Expanded Edition
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Voices from the Plain of Jars is probably the most significant commentary about what happened, because it is straight from the mouths of the Laotian people who had gone through that horrible experience. This book was one of the key documents exposing the unauthorized military conflict, and led to Congress eventually becoming aware of the secret war that had been going on for years.
This is the book that opened my own eyes, as it highlights the innocence and bewilderment of simple people caught up in a Cold War conflict that they could not possibly comprehend.
Voices from the Plain of Jars shows exactly what it means to wage modern warfare, where the battlefields are no longer open fields, but the homes of blameless civilians who get caught in the middle.
Branfman arrived in Laos in 1967 to work as an educational adviser for the International Voluntary Services (IVS). He lived in a Lao village 6.8 miles outside Vientiane, a village lacking running water and electricity. He learned how to speak Laotian, though he could not read the language. The time he spent with the Lao rice farmers gave him profound respect for the "kind, friendly, cheerful, decent, fun, honest, sincere, and trustworthy" villagers. He connected with the locals on a deep human level. One day in September of 1969, Branfman accompanied his friend Tim Allman, a New York Times journalist, to interview refugees from the Plain of Jars, a lush mountainous region in the northeast handle of Laos. Branfman and Allman had heard rumors of bombing denied by the US government but reported in "Le Monde" the previous spring.
Branfman learned about the horrific US bombings of Laos from the villagers he interviewed in the Plain of Jars. Survivors of the bomb attacks hid in shelters dug into mountain slopes, living like animals foraging for food at night. When Branfman later interviewed US soldiers stationed in Vietnam, he was disgusted with the arrogance of the military personnel who bragged about killing civilians. US officials in Southeast Asia denied any US air attacks in Laos. Branfman discovered that the US government went to war unilaterally without Congressional authorization.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Branfman's book is a searing indictment of the mindless and cruel US bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Romi Mahajan
Fred's Voices from the Plains of Jars is a classic. As historian Al McCoy said of it, perhaps the single most important book to come out of the US war in Indochina!. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Walter M Haney