The staunchest of allies, the Hmong were America’s foot soldiers in the brutal secret Lao theater of the Vietnam War, risking all to defend their homelands and to rescue downed American air crews. Abandoned by the United States when it withdrew in 1975, the Hmong have been subjected to a campaign of genocide by communist Laos and Vietnam, including the use of chemical-biological toxin warfare. Thousands of Hmong, now scattered in refugee camps, are being forcibly repatriated to Laos – where they face retribution and terror. From their ancient homelands in China, with a fiercely independent culture dating back to 2000 B.C., the Hmong migrated southward out of China into the mountains of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. More than 120,000 Hmong now live in the United States, from California to Minnesota to Pennsylvania. But thousands more lead desperate lives in refugee camps in Southeast Asia – knowing that repatriation could mean death. Tragic Mountains tells the story of the Hmong struggle for freedom and survival in Laos from 1942 to the present. During those years, most Hmong sided with the French against the Japanese and Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh and then with the Americans against the North Vietnamese. These allegiances have led the current Lao government to declare the Hmong as enemies, vowing to “wipe them out.” This is a story of courage, tenacity, brutality, secrecy, incredible heroism by Hmong and Americans alike, international cynicism, betrayal, genocide, resilience, and (still) hope. Jane Hamilton-Merritt has written it to open the world’s eyes to the proud history and current tragedy of the Hmong – with the desire that this book “might yet change the destiny of those repatriated.”
Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Nobel-nominated scholar and photojournalist, has followed the plight of the Hmong and the war in Indochina since the 1960s. The staunchest of allies, the Hmong sided with the Americans against the North Vietnamese and were foot soldiers in the brutal secret war for Laos. Since the war, abandoned by their American allies, the Hmong have been subjected to a campaign of genocide by the North Vietnamese, including the use of chemical weapons. Tragic Mountains moves from the big picture of international diplomacy and power politics to the small villages and heroic engagements in the Lao jungle. It is a story of courage, brutality, heroism, betrayal, resilience, and hope.
Author: Jane Hamilton-Merritt
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Genre: History / Military / Vietnam War
Date Published: 1993
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