Recommended Books

One of the most interesting books about Laos (and indeed Vietnam and Cambodia) is A Dragon Apparent by the celebrated English travel writer Norman Lewis. Written before Indochina was plunged into Cold War conflict, it takes a look at the end of French rule and is both insightful (although very opinionated) and entertaining. A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between, by Grant Evans, published in 2002, is a good introduction to Lao history. Ant Egg Soup by Natacha du Pont de Bie is a foodie's tour of the country. It chronicles the author's adventures and describes the people she meets, the places she visits and, of course, the food she eats. Another Quiet American by Brett Dakin is a subjective look at the expatriate community in Vientiane at the start of this century and lays out the author's struggles with the issues of poverty. One Foot in Laos by Dervla Murphy is a quirky piece of travel literature and a good light read. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman portrays the struggle between a Hmong refugee family and their American doctors over the care of their epileptic daughter. It is a tragic tale of cultural misunderstanding and disconnection. Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War compiled, with an introduction and preface by Fred Branfman, is written by a former volunteer in the '60s and addresses the secret war that killed so many. The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred W. McCoy was so controversial the CIA tried to have it banned. It's a book that really packed a punch when published.

Recommended Films

Laos has not appeared too much on the big screen or indeed the small one. In 2008, Good Morning, Luang Prabang was released to critical acclaim. It was the nation's first privately funded movie, a love story between a Thai photographer and a Lao tour guide. The Most Secret Place on Earth is a documentary by filmmakers Marc Eberle and Tom Vater, uncovering the history of covert American involvement in Laos during the '60s. The film interviews key players of the secret war including former CIA agents, American pilots, Lao fighters, and war reporters taking the viewer on a journey into the physical heart of the conflict. Information on this film can be found on the filmmaker's website,

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