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Stalking the Elephant Kings
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Winner, City of Brisbane/Qantas Prize for Asia-Pacific Travel Writing Twenty years after the Indochina wars, Christopher Kremmer visited Laos - at the crossroads of change in Southeast Asia. He started his journey in the tranquility of Luang Prabang, once the royal capital. But despite its ancient culture and stately airs, the town - like Laos itself - is a place of secrets, mysteries and nagging questions. Setting off in search of the lost royal family, a 600-year-old dynasty consumed by the violent troulbes of the 1960s and 1970s, the author reveals a small land-locked corner of Asia struggling to come to terms with the legacies of the American war and Asian communism. This is travel with a mission and it takes the author deep into Laos - to the bomb craters and enigmatic stone containers of the Plain of Jars, the brooding caves and limestone peaks of Houaphan near the Lao border with Vietnam, and the southern provinces bordering Cambodia. Stalking the Elephant Kings tells the story of Southeast Asian revolution and its tragic consequences. Based on extensive travel inside Laos and exhaustive research abroad, the book reveals new details of the fate
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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsDramatis personaePrologueLuang PrabangThe empty palaceVientiane'Six Clicks City'Riding with the colonelSam NeuaThe Plain of JarsThe Re-education Guest HouseMany Happy ReturnsEpilogueBibliography

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Winner, City of Brisbane/Qantas Prize for Asia-Pacific Travel Writing 1997

Reviews

When the Pathet Lao forced the last king of Laos, Savang Vathana, to abdicate, they snuffed out a 600-year-old monarchy. Twenty years later, Kremmer, an Australian foreign correspondent then based in Hanoi, tried unsuccessfully to crack the mystery behind the fate of the royals. In this first-rate travelog we see a Laos on the cusp of change, its charm lying in the absence of commercialism. Kremmer appears unimpressed by the Lao revolution of 1975 and its aftermath when he presents the historical and political underpinnings of that period. We see the Laotian face of communism through meetings with government and Communist party functionaries, ex-royals, and businessmen; and the region's culture is captured through accounts of festivals and visits to wats. Considering the paucity of recent travel narratives about Laos, readers will be well served by this engaging book. Stan Sesser's The Lands of Charm and Cruelty (LJ 5/1/93) has a chapter on Laos. Recommended for both academic and public libraries.‘Ravi Shenoy, Hinsdale P.L., Naperville, IL

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