Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Part III

This book is very dense, so it's taking me awhile to get through it. But it's a good kind of dense. Not boring at all. In between the story of Lia's family's fight with her doctors, Fadiman tells the backstory of the family and how they arrived in the U.S.

I've learned about the U.S. secret war, or "Quiet War" or Laotian Civil War, in Laos during Vietnam. A war that was so secretive people still don't know all that much about it. Hundreds of thousands of Hmong people fought on our side during this Quiet War, and thousands and thousands died. The war was led by General Vang Pao. (If the name sounds familiar, he was in the news last summer for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government of Laos.) When Vang Pao had to surrender after many years of fighting, the remaining Hmong were displaced from their homes and had to migrate to Thai refugee camps, and then many eventually came here and were spattered about the country. Lia's parents made this journey, losing children and other family members along the way.

Fadiman then talks about what happens when Hmong arrive here: how they're treated, how they act, how they survive. The facts are not uplifting. But I'm enjoying this book for the fact that I'm learning a lot about a culture and a time in history that they don't teach you about in school.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Reading books like this are not always the most pleasant, but they are important. As a former psych major, I appreciate the back story. There's always a reason...