Overview

      Going Native is the true story of two men who changed the destiny of a tribal people – and found their own lives changed in turn. In 1961, the C.I.A.’s Bill Lair organized a covert operation to fight local and North Vietnamese communists in the mountains of Laos, in the interior of Southeast Asia. He recruited the Hmong tribe, who were led by a charismatic commander named Vang Pao. The war they ran together was a spectacular success at first – and a disaster later, when it was pulled into the poorly-managed Vietnam conflict next door. 

      When the war ended, lobbying by Vang Pao and deft maneuvering by Lair brought the Hmong to the U.S. as refugees. Then Lair quit the Agency and went home to Texas. Bitter at his government, seeking obscurity, avoiding everything in his past life, he became a blue-collar truck driver, spending his time on the freeways in self-imposed exile.

       For decades the retired Agency operative and the tribal chief stayed locked in a feud, each privately blaming the other for the war’s ending. Then, in 2007, when Vang Pao was arrested on federal terrorism charges, Bill Lair had to make a choice. Would he support the U.S. government he had once served  – or the old tribesman who needed his help?