What We Inherit

About the Book

“Part memoir, part investigative journalism, and completely engrossing, What We Inherit is not a book you’ll be forgetting anytime soon.”—O, The Oprah Magazine


In the wake of her mother’s death, Jessica Pearce Rotondi uncovers boxes of letters, declassified CIA reports, and newspaper clippings that bring to light a family ghost: her uncle Jack, who disappeared during the CIA-led “Secret War” in Laos in 1972. The letters lead her across Southeast Asia in search of the truth that has eluded her family for decades. What she discovers takes her closer to the mother she lost and the mysteries of a secret war that changed the rules of engagement forever.


Why we recommend it: A fast-paced, riveting account of a journey across modern Laos that will appeal to audiences who have never heard of the secret war. Blends history and reporting with armchair travel. Recommended for those planning or interested in a trip to Laos. The author is now a trustee of Legacies of War.

About the Author

Jessica Pearce Rotondi

Jessica Pearce Rotondi

Jessica Pearce Rotondi is the author of WHAT WE INHERIT: A Secret War and a Family’s Search for Answers, which Salman Rushdie calls “exceptional.” Her work has been published in The History Channel, Reader’s Digest, The Boston Globe, Refinery29, Salon, and Vogue, and featured by NBC and CNN. Previously, she was a senior editor at The Huffington Post and a staff member at the PEN American Center, the world’s oldest literary human rights organization. Her first job in New York City was at St. Martin’s Press, where she had a “room of her own” in the Flatiron Building to fill with books. She grew up in New England and is a graduate of Brown University.