A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between by Grant Evans

By Grant Evans

A good written account the way it all occurred and the way and why Laos used to be the catalyst for the the USA Viet Nam battle.

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Sticky rice eaters abound in the areas identified as Lao today, although it is also eaten by most other ethnic groups in this area. Sticky rice travelled with the Tai to the lowlands, where they encountered long grain varieties grown by both the Mon and the Khmer, and farms with mixed varieties evolved. It was only the beginning of rice exports in Ayudhya, and then the later nineteenth-century boom in rice exports from the Chao Phraya plain, that led to a decisive shift away from sticky rice varieties, even in people who had traditionally eaten it.

Usually these movements draw on traditional religious and political beliefs to assert that an ideal society is coming into being, as predicted by their prophet, that will wipe away the bad world of the present. These sentiments can be seen in the deeply mystical set of poems ‘Leup Pha Sun’ (‘To Extinguish the Brilliance of the Sun’), written sometime in the nineteenth century after the defeat of Chao Anou. 4 ‘Leup Pha Sun’ can also be read as a cultural statement of Lao against Siamese identity, and it was adopted as such by Lao nationalist 31 Laos—PAGES 12/4/02 2:10 PM Page 32 A Short History of Laos intellectuals later in the twentieth century.

To the east, Vietnamese power had grown in Cambodia. The death of Anou gave notice that centralisation of power in Bangkok would be stepped up and that no internal challenges to this power would be tolerated. 29 Laos—PAGES 12/4/02 2:10 PM Page 30 A Short History of Laos The ‘Lao-isation’ of the Khorat Plateau Following the revolt of Anou, the Khorat Plateau underwent a crucial transformation as the Siamese state set out to colonise it definitively with people forcibly relocated from the eastern bank of the Mekong.

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