books I've read about the area

I've been doing some reading in preparation for our trip, and I'd like to mention three books that I found particularly engaging as well as historically and culturally instructive.

1. The Latehomecomer (2008) by Kao Kalia Yang.  Memoir of a Hmong woman whose family escaped from Laos.

2. In the Shadow of the Banyan (2012) by Vaddey Ratner.  Listed as a novel, but actually a memoir of a woman whose family escaped from Cambodia.

3. The River's Tale (2002) by Edward A Gagan.  An earlier travel memoir by a reporter who traveled the length of the Mekong (north to south).  Relevant sections on Laos and Cambodia are pp. 115-267.  (South Vietnam, pp. 268-313)

I've also enjoyed the PBS series The Mekong River with Sue Perkins.  Part 2 includes Cambodia and Part 3 includes Laos.  Of the PBS series on Vietnam, I found episodes 1 and 2 (1868-1963) the most instructive.

Looking forward to the trip.

  • Thanks for these suggestions! I have read the Shadow of the Banyan Tree and I wholeheartedly endorse your recommendation. I just finished Joel Brinkley’s Cambodia’s Curse which is on our reading....very sad but very enlightening to me since I didn’t know a lot about Cambodia.