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Over the centuries, the Hmong have called many places home, including China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and most recently France, Australia, and the United States. Their new neighbours, though welcoming, may know little about how they have come to these places or their views on relationships, religion, or art. Now, in A People's History of the Hmong, representative voices offer their community's story, spanning four thousand years to the present day. "This was the life of our Hmong people", remembers Pa Seng Thao, one of the many who describe farming villages in the mountains of Laos. Others help us understand the Hmong experience during the Vietnam War, particularly when the U.S. military pulled out of Laos, abandoning thousands of Hmong allies. Readers learn first-hand of the hardships of refugee camps and the challenges of making a home in a foreign country, with a new language and customs. Drawing on more than two hundred interviews, historian Paul Hillmer assembles a compelling history in the words of the people who lived it.
Paul Hillmer is a professor of American history and the director of the Hmong Oral History Project at Concordia University in St. Paul. His six part History Channel funded documentary, From Strangers to Neighbors, examines Hmong people and their resettlement in the Twin Cities.