The Boat Landing Guest House, Luang Namtha, Laos - offering pro-poor tourism options fighting climate change

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Books on Laos


 Travel Guides


A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between by Grant Evans
Silkworm Books, 2002

An ideal introduction to Laos for travelers, businesspeople, diplomats and students. For those familiar with Lao history, Evans investigates key events in new ways and presents serious challenges to conventional views about Laos' intriguing history.


Ant Egg Soup by Natacha du Pont de Bie
Hodder Headlin, 2004

Natacha Du Pont De Bie is no ordinary tourist. She is a food tourist. Ant Egg Soup chronicles Natacha's adventures in Laos. It is a  portrayal of the people she meets, the places she visits and, of course, the food she tastes. Funny and refreshing, with delicious recipes and line drawings, Ant Egg Soup will give you an understanding and appreciation for Lao food like no other book can. You'll even read a bit more about the Boat Landing's family.


Another Quiet American by Brett Dakin
Asia Books, 2003

This a first-hand account of a poor struggling country. Above all it is a story of a young American coming to terms with his country's role in the world at the beginning of a new century. This book has a good, if reckless, description of Vientiane expatriates, their lives and the Lao people they meet and socialize with.


One Foot in Laos by Dervla Murphy

A wonderful story about Dervla's truly unique journey off the beaten track. Her observations are poignant, even if some of her trivial facts are a bit wrong (e.g.; The tails of Lao cats are genetically malformed and not amputated as she would have you believe). Definitely the most current travel book available about Laos. A good book to read when you are on the road.


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down 

by Anne Fadiman

The Noonday Press, 1997


Anne Fadiman lovingly portrays a struggle between a Hmong refugee family and their American doctors over the care of their epileptic daughter, Lia. Both sides are trying to give the best care they know how but an immense gulf of culture and misunderstanding leads them to tragedy. Ms. Fadiman tells their story with grace comprehending those who do not comprehend each other. She will also help you to comprehend the world view of the Hmong in light of your own. This book was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.


Further Travels in Laos and in Yunnan: the Mekong Exploration Commission Report - Volume 2 (1866-1868) by Francis Garnier,

Reprinted by White Lotus Co. Ltd, 1996

This is second part of the Mekong Exploration Commission Report (1866-1868), whose purpose was to explore trade routes in Indochina. Volume 2 contains the report of the Commission's travels in Upper Laos and Yunnan. The book has many illustrations of ethnic groups and daily life of the time.


Travels in Laos: The fate of the Sip Song Pana and Muong Sing (1894-1896) by E. Lefèvre, 

Reprinted by White Lotus Co. Ltd, 1995

Written by a member of the famous Mission Pavie, describes the dramatic final episode in the tale of French conquests in Indochina. The rivalry of the British and the French in Asia reached its culmination when the superpowers met in Upper Laos.


Surveying and Exploring in Siam by James McCarthy

Reprinted by White Lotus Co. Ltd, 1995

This is a captivating record of one man's mammoth effort to survey all of Siam and his personal observations. From 1881 to 1893, James McCarthy struggled in the jungles of Northern  Siam and present-day Laos against fever and the lack of food. Here is a rich world of information about the small states and peoples in Siam's Lao Dependencies, and on the early movements and trading of the hill tribes. This narrative culminates with the French annexation of the Lao territories. This book has a large collection of drawings and early photographs from Laos.


Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War complied, with an introduction and preface, by Fred Branfman,

Harper Colophon Books, 1972

This little known book is the work of one American Volunteer outraged by the secret bombing of Laos by his own country. The book is composed of the translated essays of the people who lived under the bombing from 1964-1969. This is the story of the first society to be totally destroyed by aircraft. The effects of this automated war has until now has remained unknown to the rest of the world.


The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred W. McCoy,

Harper and Row, 1972

By far the most definitive book ever written about the history and organization of the opium trade in S.E. Asia. An excellent documentation that 30 years later is still pertinent. This is the book that the CIA tried to suppress. It tells you who really benefits from the opium trade.


Lao-English Phrasebooks

Lao - English/English - Lao Dictionary and Phrasebook

James Higbie, 

Hippocrene Books, Inc.

This romanized dictionary and phrasebook is designed for travelers and people living in Laos. It features the essential phrases and vocabulary of modern spoken Lao.


White Lotus Press has a large selection of very interesting books on Laos.


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Revised: June 01, 2009 .