It’s 1970. War rages in Viet Nam, while intense, sometimes violent protests against it rage at home. Impelled to test his courage against that of his WWII hero father, college student David L. Haase arranges to study at the Buddhist University in Saigon. Detained on arrival and quickly deported from Viet-Nam, he searches for a way to get back in.
Instead, he stumbles into the secret CIA war next door in Laos. For the next two years, he witnesses the unraveling of the American politico-military strategy, the decimation of a primitive hill tribe people, and the destruction of a tiny jungle kingdom, all of which he laboriously transcribes in limp, lined school notebooks each day. Those handwritten notes became this memoir of a young innocent abroad growing older and cynical.
Very Interesting Personal Perspective
The Vietnam War and that entire era of world politics dominated by the Cold War and domestic politics dominated by sharp liberal and conservative divisions, race relations, and political assassinations is far too complicated to summarize simply. Mr. Haase’s well written personal account of trying to get into Vietnam and residing in Laos adds another facet of compelling insight into this time period. I particularly appreciate the author not trying to project global meaning or political advocacy into his experiences, making it all the more honest. The author draws you into his personal account through an adept use of description of the people he meets and the places to which he goes and develops his story at a pace and in a way that makes it hard to put the book down at the end of a chapter.