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Strike Patterns: Notes from Postwar Laos (Hardcover)

Strike Patterns: Notes from Postwar Laos By Leah Zani Cover Image
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A vivid meditation on the aftermath of war and its infinite registers of loss and repair

A strike pattern is a signature of violence carved into the land--bomb craters or fragments of explosives left behind, forgotten. In Strike Patterns, poet and anthropologist Leah Zani journeys to a Lao river community where people live alongside such relics of a secret war. As Zani uncovers this hidden legacy, she finds herself immersed in the lives of her hosts: Chantha, a daughter of war refugees who grapples with her place in a future Laos of imagined prosperity; Channarong, a bomb technician whose Thai origins allow him to stand apart from the battlefields he clears; and Bounmi, a young man who has inherited his bomb expertise from his father but now struggles to imagine a similar future for his unborn son. Wandering through their lives are the restless ghosts of kin and strangers.

From 1964 to 1973, the United States carried out a covert air war against Laos. Frequently overshadowed by the war with Vietnam, the Secret War was the longest and most intense air war in history. Today, much of Laos remains contaminated with dangerous leftover explosives. Despite its obscurity, the conflict has become a shadow model for modern counterinsurgency. Investigating these shadows of war, Zani spends time with silk weavers and rice farmers, bomb clearance crews and black market war scrap traders, ritual healers and survivors of explosions. Combining rigorous observation with poetry, fiction, and memoir she reflects on the power of building new lives in the ruins.

With sensitive and arresting prose, Zani reveals the layered realities that settle atop one another in Laos--from its French colonial history to today's authoritarian state--all blown open by the war. This excavation of postwar life's balance between the mundane, the terrifying, and the extraordinary propels Zani to confront her own explosive past.

About the Author

Leah Zani, Ph.D, is an anthropologist, author, and poet writing on the social impact of war. She was Poetry Editor for Anthropology & Humanism and is the author of Bomb Children (2019). Her writing has also appeared in Consequence Magazine, Somatosphere, and Los Angeles Review of Books.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781503611733
ISBN-10: 1503611736
Publisher: Redwood Press
Publication Date: March 15th, 2022
Pages: 208
Language: English