There's so much about this account that moved and informed me. If you are interested in this war or clandestine military operations in general or children as soldiers or the devastating struggles of mere human beings attempting to recover in the aftermath of a monster war fought in their own back yard, you should read it.
It's an oral history compiled by Morrison, who received a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The focus is on Hmong accounts, but American pilots, aid workers, journalists and others involved in the evacuation are here as well.
During the Vietnam War the Hmong assisted the American military mission in Laos, most of which was under the auspices of the CIA. Politcal wrangling resulted in many players vying for authority, and the convoluted secrecy of operations generated a bureaucratic nightmare and a twilight zone of events in which the Hmong population, mostly tribal and primitive and previously isolated from all life beyond their villages, was decimated.
Among the most telling and moving accounts are those of Hmong parents trying to account for lost children, the living and the dead: "Some say they went back to Long Cheng and the graves of my children had been dug up. Others say that the graves were undisturbed. To this day I am not sure what happened to the graves of my three children and whether or not someone took out their bodies."
For anyone interested in learning more about the American war in Laos, I recommend The Ravens
by Christopher Robbins, The Ravens: The Men Who Flew In America's Secret War In Laosand here's a link to my review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/174855658
Shooting At The Moon: The Story of America's Clandestine War in LaosShooting At The Moon: The Story of America's Clandestine War in Laos in which a venerable American aid worker known as Pop Buell notes that:
"Thirty percent of the (Hmong) kids (being drafted in 1968) were fourteen years old or less and about a dozen were about ten years old. Another thirty percent were fifteen or sixteen. The rest were thirty-five or older. Where were the ones in between? I will tell you, they are all dead. Here were these little kids in their camouflage uniforms that were much too big for them, but they looked real neat, and when the King of Laos talked to them they were proud and cocky as could be. They were eager. Their fathers and brothers had played Indian before them, and now they want to play Indian themselves. But V.P. (Hmong General Vang Pao) and I know better. They are too young and are not trained. In a few weeks, ninety percent of them will be killed."