A Great Place to Have a War

About the Book

Through interviews and original reporting, Kurlantzick argues that America’s secret war in Laos in the 1960s helped transform the CIA from a loose collection of spies into a military operation and a key player in American foreign policy. The author gets CIA leaders on the record about their role in making Laos the most heavily bombed country in the world.


Why we recommend it: Excellent overview of the CIA’s involvement in Laos featuring vivid depictions of Hmong General Vang Pao and CIA operatives who shaped the war and the future of Laos forever.

About the Author

Joshua Kurlantzick

Joshua Kurlantzick

Joshua Kurlantzick is an American journalist from Baltimore, Maryland, United States. He is a Fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.[1] Kurlantzick is the author of Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power Is Transforming the World,[2] which was nominated for the Council on Foreign Relations's 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award.[3]

Kurlantzick was most recently a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he studied Southeast Asian politics and economics and China's relations with Southeast Asia, including Chinese investment, aid, and diplomacy. Previously, he was a fellow at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy [4] and a fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

He has also served as a columnist for Time, a special correspondent for The New Republic, a senior correspondent for American Prospect, and a contributing writer for Mother Jones. He also serves on the editorial board of Current History.

He is the winner of the Luce Scholarship for journalism in Asia and was selected as a finalist for the Osborn Elliot Prize for journalism in Asia.