Author info

Below: Long Cheng, founded by Bill Lair and Vang Pao, was the secret headquarters for the Hmong operation in the mountains of Laos. From an empty valley it grew to become a city of 40,000. Abandoned after the war, it is just beginning to rebuild today. Roger Warner was the first journalist to gain access to Long Cheng in the postwar era.


       Roger Warner is the author of a history published in hardcover as Back Fire: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos and Its Link to the War in Vietnam. In 1995 it won the Overseas Press Club’s award for best non-fiction book on foreign affairs.  The New York Times called this preliminary work “engrossing … convincing and gripping.” The Nation said, “With the publication of Back Fire, Warner emerges as the first significant war historian of the post-Vietnam generation.” Steerforth Press reissued the book in paperback under the title Shooting at the Moon: The Story of America’s Clandestine War in Laos.  

       This early prizewinning work, by now 20 years old, was a necessary precusor to the current project, both in terms of developing an in-depth understanding of the Hmong, and also in terms of understanding the underlying similarities between the Laos war and the later wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

       Roger Warner also wrote Haing Ngor: A Cambodian Odyssey ("The best book on Cambodia ever published" - Chicago Tribune); Angkor: The Hidden Glories (“A remarkable book, a superb evocation” – The Wall Street Journal); and Invisible Hand (“The real thing – the best book on the dope business since Snow Blind” – Hunter S. Thompson). The publishers of those books were, respectively, MacMillan, Little, Brown, and William Morrow.

       Warner is a documentary filmmaker as well as a writer. A graduate of Yale, he owns the biggest archive of Laos war still photos and film footage in the U.S., much of it shot by C.I.A. case officers. He has travelled around the U.S. and Southeast Asia on documentary shoots with the central character of this book, Bill Lair.