Thursday, May 10, 2018

Voices of Viengxay

Title:  Voices of Viengxay - Stories from the 'Hidden City' - From interviews with people who lived under bombardment in northeastern Laos from 1964 to 1973
By:  Janet Potin
Publisher, Year:  Lao National Tourism Administration, 2010

Voices of Viengxay


This was published by the Lao National Tourism Administration and sponsored by several organizations.  46 interviews were done by the 6 oral history consultants.  It's a small book but it contains a lot of fascinating stories.

Regardless of which side you may stand on in terms of the war that ravaged Laos, I find the stories from all sides to be quite eye-opening and at times surprisingly enthralling.

To be fair, I've read a few other historical war books from different perspectives.  "The Ravens" by Christopher Robbins talks about the experiences US bomber pilots in Laos.  "I, little slave" by Bounsang Khamkeo talks about his experience as a seminar survivor after years of being imprisoned under the new regime after 1975.  "Cash and Violence" by Anna Louise Strong talks about the political goings-on in Laos from the perspective of the communist world of the 1960s.  Moreover, depending on who you talk to from the older Lao generation, you get a different perspective each time when they talk about the war.

This book was from a perspective I hadn't read about.  It was from those who had survived the US bombings in northeastern Laos.  Those who would become a part of the new government of Laos in 1975.  The book talks about how they lived, survived and continued to work while the bombings continued. 

The stories that are shared discuss the many different facets of life during that time.  In the midst of the turmoil that was going on, it's quite interesting to read how they were able to grow food, raise children, deal with love/relationships/deaths, dealt with security, printed their own materials, organize a weekly movie night, and administrate and dispatch people to the front lines, all from these caves (and surrounding area) in a town they renamed Viengxay.  The book goes into all of this and more.

Well recommended especially for those interested in Lao history.  

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