cover image Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos

Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos

Karen J. Coates, photos by Jerry Redfern. Things Asian (Ingram, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (380p) ISBN 978-1-934159-49-1

During its long involvement in Vietnam the United States waged a not-so-secret war in neighboring Laos. From 1963 till 1974, the U.S. dropped some two million tons of bombs on the tiny Southeast Asian nation in the fight against the communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese Army troops on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. “To this day Laos remains, per capita, the most heavily bombed country on earth,” Coates (Cambodia Now: Life in the Wake of War ) points out in her account of the legacy left by unexploded ordnance. Coates and Redfern, her photojournalist husband, began work on this book in 2005, making numerous trips to Laos and digging deeply into official records and other primary sources. The result is a reportorial look at conditions on the ground in Laos, often written in the first person, describing the pair’s travels around the country interviewing and photographing those affected by the bombs. Filled with scores of Redfern’s black-and-white photographs, the book concentrates on the two main legacies of the bombing: the killing and maiming of thousands that continues to this day, and the innovative ways that people have repurposed the tons of scrap metal left in the aftermath of conflict. B&w photos. (Dec.)