Spies on the Mekong: CIA Clandestine Operations in Laos
Laos was a country beset by war internally and surrounded by wars in nearby countries, such as Vietnam and Cambodia. In the 20th century, Laos was fought over by the United States, France, Japan, and Vietnam. The United States viewed Laos and its leadership as an ally in its war in Vietnam. However, the leadership in Laos was tentative at best. Multiple factions, from royal-backed to anti-communist to Communist Pathet Lao fought for dominance. The domino theory of communism and the importance of containment led to further US involvement through the CIA and State Department. The United States was soon funneling support in an effort to stabilize the friendly government. The 1960s–1970s would witness various CIA honchos and covert-action desperadoes attempting to keep Laos anti-communist by partnering with a warlord named Vang Pao and his Hmong soldiers.
Spies on the Mekong relates an unsettled time in Southeast Asia where every day brought forth a new covert operation. The mission remained the same, but the personnel fluctuated along with the total commitment as the tide of Vietnam turned in the Communist direction. Ken Conboy communicates the derring-do of the soldiers and spies in a manner reminiscent of a hard-boiled spy novelist.
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