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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 struggle.

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Extra resources for A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between

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This would happen only if he could bring Luang Phrabang into line and gather under his sovereignty more people. However, given his brother Nanthasaen’s earlier attack on 27 Laos—PAGES 12/4/02 2:10 PM Page 28 A Short History of Laos Luang Phrabang, there was little sympathy there for Anou, and when he began his march across the Khorat Plateau in 1827 Luang Phrabang tried to stay neutral. The uprising was given support by some of the nobility in the northeast, but others stayed loyal to Bangkok. Anou’s forces took Nakhon Ratchasima by using the subterfuge that they were marching south to help Bangkok resist a British invasion.

The construction of dams and irrigation networks was left to local communities. The relatively small surpluses restricted the taxes and corvée (labour) that could be levied on the peasantry and thus the scale of public works that could be carried out, whether it be building roads or major temple complexes and cities. The other main source of revenue for Lan Xang was trade in forest products such as sticklac, cardamom and beeswax, which were supplied primarily by minorities who remained in the mountains, some still as hunter-gatherers.

The nineteenth century was a long process of turning peasants into Frenchmen—still incomplete when France took control of Laos in 1893. At that time the population of France was predominantly rural, and there was an enormous cultural gap between urban Parisian society and the countryside. For many, Paris was France, a sophisticated urban milieu that gave the nation an appearance of being more developed and ‘civilised’ than it really was. Members of this urban elite were often shocked to encounter peasants in rural areas who refused to speak French, who did not see themselves as Frenchmen, and who clung to local customs and ‘superstitions’.

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