Voices from the Plain of Jars- Favorite Book

I don’t personally own many books, so choosing a favorite out of the ones that are in my possession was a bit difficult. A book that has been on my mind since I got it is Voices from the Plain of Jars, edited by Fred Branfman. This book is a collection of essays and drawings from Laotian villagers who survived bombings during the Vietnam War. I got this book at a workshop held by Legacies of War, IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization), and APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon) about unexploded bombs left in Laos and other Southeast Asian countries. These bombs are called cluster bombs and continue to injure adults and children in these countries. The bombs look similar to balls, so children who do not know the danger try to pick them up resulting in them being killed or seriously injured. The purpose of this workshop and Legacies of War as an organization is to raise awareness about these bombs from people and gain support so these bombs can be removed from the land.

I like this book because it mostly includes drawings and personal essays from survivors to tell the story. The drawings, although not very detailed, show tragedy and pain. The essays talk about sadness and fear. Instead of having a narrator explaining everything that happened, you can read the point of view of the people who survived and witnessed the crimes that happened. All of the survivors featured in this book tell a similar story with their drawings and writing without knowing each other, which shows the impact of the war. The drawings allow visuals so you can see what the survivors witnessed. There is a small foreword that explains the backstory of the war and what happened, along with an epilogue to explain how the bombings and war are still impacting the people who live on this scarred land. There is also an appendix with documents with documentation about the air war that comes from the US side, which also puts these bombings in a different perspective.

This book is a short read, but it is packed with information. It’s a simple design, so the content is what is most exciting and has made the biggest impact on me. The text is not dense and too packed with information that I feel overwhelmed.

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