Tragic Mountains
Now in Paperback!

Tragic Mountains

The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos, 1942-1992
Jane Hamilton-Merritt
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/9/2008
Format: paper 624 pages, 47 b&w photos, 3 figures, 6 maps
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-20756-2
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Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Nobel-nominated scholar and photojournalist, has followed the plight of the Hmong and the war in Indochina since the 1960s. The staunchest of allies, the Hmong sided with the Americans against the North Vietnamese and were foot soldiers in the brutal secret war for Laos. Since the war, abandoned by their American allies, the Hmong have been subjected to a campaign of genocide by the North Vietnamese, including the use of chemical weapons. Tragic Mountains moves from the big picture of international diplomacy and power politics to the small villages and heroic engagements in the Lao jungle. It is a story of courage, brutality, heroism, betrayal, resilience, and hope.

Author Bio

Jane Hamilton-Merritt was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for her coverage of the Vietnam War, and in 1998 for the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of her long-standing efforts on behalf of the Hmong. Tragic Mountains is her account of the historic struggle of the Hmong and of their betrayal by the United States.


"In this bitter, tragic and disturbing saga, Asian scholar/journalist/photographer Hamilton-Merritt documents the horrible suffering endured by the Hmong since they were abandoned by the U.S. in 1975. . . . Hamilton-Merritt’s impressive study, one hopes, will lead to the belated U.S. recognition of responsibility for the plight of the Hmong." —Publishers Weekly

". . . compelling . . . an absorbing book that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the ‘secret’ war in Laos and in the Hmong." —C. Dennison Lane, The Wall Street Journal

". . . a terrible, heartrending story of the savage and relentless Communist retributions against the Hmong for siding with the United States . . . compassionate, richly detailed . . ." —San Francisco Chronicle

". . . absolutely gripping, haunting, compelling . . ." —Journal of American History

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Printing
Part One: The Fight for the Control of Indochina
1. Massacre on the Mekong
2. The time of the Fackee
3. The Rise of the Viet Minh
4. The Time of the Viet Minh
Part Two: Laos: The First Domino
5. The Time of the Americans
6. Camelot and the Land of Oz
7. The Charade of Neutralization
Part Three: Secret War in Laos: The Johnson Years
8. CIA Operations at Long Chieng
9. Widening of the “Secret War”
10. Phou Pha Thi Falls, “the Alamo” Holds
11. Hmong in the Skies
12. Vang Pao Goes to Washington
Part Four: The Nixon-Kissinger Years
13. Men of Courage
14. The U.S. Betrays the Hmong
15. Lima Lima
16. Kissinger and Guerilla Diplomacy
17. Bouam Loung, SKY Border Base
18. War Bloodies the Land of Oz
19. The Siege of Long Chieng
Part Five: “Peace” in Laos: The Communist Takeover
20. The Last Americans
21. Am Ominous Lull
22. “Wipe Them Out!”
Part Six: The Lao Gulag
23. Exodus
24. Chao Fa: Mystical Warriors
25. Holocaust in the Hills
26. The Giant Slays Sin Sai’s Soldiers
Part Seven: A New Military Age
27. “A Conspiracy of Silence”
28. “Yellow Rain” and World Councils
29. Wronged by the Media
Part Eight: Wronged in War; Wronged in Peace
30. Burial in Montana
31. Abused and Abandoned
32. Requiem
Interviews and Sources