Strike Patterns
Notes from Postwar Laos
Leah Zani


Contents and Abstracts
1 1
chapter abstract

Introduces the narrator, Laos, Lao social systems and village life, Lao geography, and the Secret War. The narrator attends the Fire Boat Festival in Chantha's village.

2 2
chapter abstract

Introduces explosives clearance and methods of cluster bomb clearance. The narrator accompanies Channarong, the field manager, on a village survey. Vanida, another technician, is also working on the survey.

3 3
chapter abstract

Back in Chantha's village, the narrator learns how to say 'no' in Lao and refuses several offers. The narrator says 'yes' to an interview with Silavong, Chantha's aunt, about her experiences in the war. The narrator meets Bounmi, who visits Silavong for an exorcism. The narrator reflects on her experiences growing up with a step-parent who was a Vietnam War vet with PTSD.

4 4
chapter abstract

The narrator accompanies Channarong on a demolition and learns how to wear safety gear. The narrator meets Dao, a demolition technician, who lost her leg in a cluster bomb explosion. Dao explains that the "safe point" is the safest area in a clearance site.

5 5
chapter abstract

The narrator meets Vanida in a rural village where the two of them are staying at a haunted guest house. The narrator learns that the ghost is a Frenchwoman who died before the war, when Laos was a French colony. The narrator imagines talking to this ghost.

6 6
chapter abstract

The narrator attends a basi ceremony where the clearance team tries to draw back the spirits of Dao's body that she lost in the explosion that destroyed her leg. The narrator interviews Dao about her six legs: her born leg and five prosthetics.

7 7
chapter abstract

The narrator wakes up afraid from a nightmare about a bomb exploding. The valley is flooding during the monsoon, and this makes clearance harder. The narrator accompanies Channarong on a visit to an all-female clearance team that includes Vanida. Vanida shows the narrator how to use a metal detector. Later, Vanida shows the narrator how to plant rice.

8 8
chapter abstract

The narrator accompanies Channarong and Emilia on a trip to a handover ceremony in a remote Khmu village. The residents refuse to participate in the handover ceremony, and the technicians become frustrated.

9 9
chapter abstract

Bounmi invites the narrator to visit his farm and bomb garden. The narrator interviews Bounmi and learns that he is a black market war scrap trader. Bounmi shows the narrator his records of all the deadly explosions that have occurred in the valley.

10 10
chapter abstract

The narrator attends a village mapping ceremony managed by Vanida. Later, Vanida and the narrator try to get the villagers to show up for a risk training, where the villagers laugh and make jokes about explosions. Channarong shows the narrator a new kind of bomb he has found that creates huge strike patterns.