LAOS: The Long Reign

During all his 55 years on the throne—the longest reign of any living monarch —it sometimes seemed as if King Sisavang Vong of Laos had found a way to survive history simply by ignoring it. He never openly fought for independence from the French, but instead of earning the resentment of his people, he won only greater affection. When the French urged him to take a firmer stand against the Japanese in World War II, he patiently explained: "My people do not know how to fight; they only know how to sing and...

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