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A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between (A Short History of Asia…
by Grant Evans
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New in the Short History of Asia series, edited by Milton Osborne, this is a readable, well-informed and comprehensive history of Laos from the little-known pre-modern dynastic era to the present day.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)959.4History and Geography Asia Southeast Asia Laos
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It's a sad, and well-known, fact that Laos holds the unwanted distinction of being the most bombed place on earth (per capita). Most people can't locate it on a map. Yet for years it was used a point for proxy wars between the U.S., U.S.S.R, and the Ho Chi Minh army. A Short History of Laos details the intense domestic politics that awoke this sleepy, underdeveloped nation to the tragedy of war. There are unforgettable personalities, more than one coup, military strongmen, and battle-hardened generals hiding out in the landlocked country's barren hills. The style is perhaps pedantic, made for history buffs and scholars, but for those ready to tackle it, the book is a great introduction to Cold War Southeast Asian foreign policy. There are also ample cultural angles and context the author provides to explain events and domestic policy decisions. Everything is through the lens of the unique and sometimes bewildering Lao cultural norms.
In terms of interdisciplinary teaching, many chapters stand on their own and would be invaluable to any teacher who might want to spend a few class periods in another part of the world. An English teacher might focus a creative writing lesson on the giants of Lao lore said to inhabit the very real Plane of Jars. A history teacher would of course have plenty to talk about and some of these events could be used to give students a more nuanced understanding of the Cold War and its ramifications in different regions. ( )