A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between by Grant Evans

By Grant Evans

A good written account the way it all occurred and the way and why Laos was once the catalyst for the the USA Viet Nam struggle.

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Extra resources for A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between

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The colonial explorers of Laos, such as Henri Mouhot and Francis Garnier in the 1860s, and Auguste Pavie in the 1880s, who initially harboured fantasies of finding great wealth in the hinterlands, continued with their endeavours even when such hopes were dashed, driven forward by their desire to achieve glory for France and to spread its civilisation. Republican ideals of equality and citizenship pitted the French colonisers against the old ‘feudal’ classes and rationalised their overthrow. In its early days French colonialism was committed to the idea of turning colonial peoples into ‘Frenchmen’—but they had to be ‘civilised’ before they could reap republicanism’s rewards.

A king’s various wives gave their respective families and relatives access to power, and around such families factions would form. These families would make alliances with the families of other key figures associated with the court. As far as we know, there was no established order for a son’s succession and therefore if a faction in favour of one particular son was not clearly dominant upon the death of the king, murderous disputes could break out among the rival claimants to the throne. An ambitious son backed by a powerful faction could depose, and indeed murder, his father.

The Siamese commander Phrarajwang Bovon reported to Rama III: The people of Vientiane have fled to Muang Lakorn, Muang Chiang Mai, Muang Lamphun, Muang Phrae, Muang Nan and Muang Luang Phrabang in great number. To round them up would lead us to use brutal force which would be unpopular. The number of physically fit males in Vientiane and the cities under its jurisdiction is estimated to amount to about 20,000 men. When peace has returned and the area is settled, it is believed that over eight to nine thousand men can be recruited for our army .

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