Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos

Number 26236
Subject War
Source ThingsAsian Press
Year 2013
Publication Date Dec. 1, 2013
Summary Between 1964 and 1973, in an offshoot of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military dropped 4 billion pounds of explosives on Laos. Up to 30 percent of those bombs did not detonate, and they remain in the Laotian soil today as UXO—unexploded ordnance—contaminating more than one-third of surface area of the country. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and injured in UXO accidents since the war officially ended. 2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the start of that bombing campaign. Yet every week, more Laotians are hurt and killed. In a rural country largely composed of subsistence farmers, it is dangerous to dig. Coates and Redfern spent more than seven years traveling in Laos, talking to farmers, scrap-metal hunters, people who make and use tools from UXO, and the bomb-disposal teams working to render the land harmless. With their words and photographs, they reveal the beauty of Laos, the strength of Laotians, and the daunting scope of the problem - a problem largely unknown outside the country. Much of the American bombing campaign was carried out in secret, known only to pilots, policy makers and the people on the ground under the flight paths. Coates and Redfern aim to educate readers—especially Americans—about this little-known war and its lesser-known legacy, at a time when Americans are learning about their government's recent efforts to operate in secrecy. Eternal Harvest offers a critical look at the effects on civilians of secret military actions.
Category Contest Entry
Keywords U.S. military; military; bombs; Laos; explosives; civilians; UXO; bombing
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