Laos: The Awakening

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The silvery Cessna Wren scudded high above the Plain of Jars, and the tiny man in rumpled fatigues peered down through eyes red-rimmed with exhaustion. Below him the wind moved casually over apple-green downs, setting the jade-colored rice fields to shivering. A few pagodas, their tiled roofs torn by howitzer shells, yawned at the sun. On the barren hilltops, orange-colored lines of slit trenches spread like ringworm across the Plain of Jars, which had been fought over for three years by Communist Pathet Lao troops and neutralist forces. The tired little...

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