Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War

Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War

by Fred Branfman
     
 

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During the Vietnam War the United States government waged a massive, secret air war in neighboring Laos. Two million tons of bombs were dropped on one million people. Fred Branfman, an educational advisor living in Laos at the time, interviewed over 1,000 Laotian survivors. Shocked by what he heard and saw, he urged them to record their experiences in essays, poems

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Overview

During the Vietnam War the United States government waged a massive, secret air war in neighboring Laos. Two million tons of bombs were dropped on one million people. Fred Branfman, an educational advisor living in Laos at the time, interviewed over 1,000 Laotian survivors. Shocked by what he heard and saw, he urged them to record their experiences in essays, poems, and pictures. Voices from the Plain of Jars was the result of that effort.
    When first published in 1972, this book was instrumental in exposing the bombing. In this expanded edition, Branfman follows the story forward in time, describing the hardships that Laotians faced after the war when they returned to find their farm fields littered with cluster munitions—explosives that continue to maim and kill today.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A classic. . . . No American should be able to read [this book] without weeping at his country's arrogance."—Anthony Lewis, New York Times

"[In Laos,] where a right-wing government installed by the CIA faced a rebellion, one of the most beautiful areas in the world, the Plain of Jars, was being destroyed by bombing. This was not reported by the government or the press, but an American who lived in Laos, Fred Branfman, who told the story in his book Voices from the Plain of Jars."—Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States

"Today, the significance of this book's message has, if anything, increased. As Fred Branfman predicted with uncommon prescience, the massive U.S. bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War marked the advent of a new kind of warfare—automated, aerial, and secret—that is just now emerging as the dominant means of projecting U.S. power worldwide."—Alfred W. McCoy, author of Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation

"In this small, shattering book we hear—as we are so rarely able to do—the voices of Asian peasants describing what we can barely begin to imagine."—Gloria Emerson, New York Review of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299292249
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
05/31/2013
Series:
New Perspectives in Se Asian Studies Series
Edition description:
2, Expanded
Pages:
196
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Fred Branfman (1942–2014) was a writer and activist on issues of peace and climate change who lived in Santa Barbara, California, and in Budapest.

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