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Voices from the Plain of Jars

Life under an Air War

Edited by Fred Branfman with essays and drawings by Laotian villagers; Foreword by Alfred W. McCoy

Publication Year: 2013

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.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword: Reflections on History’s Largest Air War by Alfred W. McCoy

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pp. ix-xvi

Though this volume seems, at first glance, a slender collection of short statements and simple sketches, it is arguably the most important single book to emerge from the Vietnam War. Originally published more than forty years ago, Voices from the Plain of Jars is a collective memoir of the secret air war over neutral Laos, written, in part, by the ordinary Lao peasants who suffered...

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Textual Note

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pp. xvii-2

These essays and drawings were prepared by Laotian survivors of the bombing and destruction of the Plain of Jars. Bouangeun Luangpraseuth and I then collected the material in a half-dozen refugee camps in the Vientiane Plain between September and December 1970....

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Introduction: Laos and the Advent of Automated War

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pp. 3-38

In September 1969, after a recorded history of seven hundred years, the Plain of Jars disappeared.
The Plain, located in northeastern Laos, was destroyed by a bombing campaign that marked one of the most significant events of the twentieth century: the advent of unilateral and secret U.S. Executive Branch automated...

Voices from the Plain of Jars

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pp. 39-136

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Epilogue: After the War Ended, 1975 - Present

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pp. 137-144

When the war ended in 1975, the people of the Plain of Jars achieved their wish. They were allowed to return to the land of their birth. But they found that land deeply scarred by war. Their homes were destroyed. The thousands of water buffaloes they had once used to plow their fields were gone. They lacked food, often existing only on emergency handouts of rice. They lacked money, tools, almost all of the rudiments of life....

Appendix 1. Complete Text and Supporting Documents of USIS Refugee Survey as Obtained by Congressman McCloskey

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pp. 145-150

Appendix 2. A Survey of Civilian Casualties among Refugees from the Plain of Jars, Laos, by Walter M. Haney

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pp. 151-176


E-ISBN-13: 9780299292232
E-ISBN-10: 0299292231
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299292249
Print-ISBN-10: 029929224X

Page Count: 196
Illustrations: 34 b/w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 2nd ed.
Series Title: New Perspectives in Se Asian Studies
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth

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Subject Headings

  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Aerial operations, American.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Laos -- Jars, Plain of.
  • Jars, Plain of (Laos).
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