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Explorations coloniales
au Laos

Colonial Exploration in Laos
Jules Harmand

The explorations of a scientific adventurer.

240 pages, 15x21 cm
ISBN: 978-2919-12247-9
21 €  24,90$  790 THB

In the footsteps of Jules Harmand, experience the discoveries made in 1877 of these still untouched bastions with their strange customs in the highlands of Laos.

"If I were rich, I would buy from the king of Bangkok this lost corner of his immense possessions, and come and settle there with a few Frenchmen. There's no park like this one".

Jules Harmand's enthusiasm matches his determination and thirst for knowledge. How better to express this French passion for these distant and sumptuous lands?

In two extreme explorations, this "baroudeur-scientist" plunges us into the mysteries of this then-unknown corner of Indochina, Southern Laos, and makes us vibrate in unison with his discoveries and the thousand perils that this colonial adventurer overcomes, in 1877, the rifle always well within reach; for this naval doctor, a former companion of Francis Garnier in his war against the Black Flags, has courage pegged to the body. As for the diplomacy inherent in this type of daring expedition, it was expressed above all in his unshakeable faith in the technical superiority of the civilization whose flag he held high: "he would have been capable of asking me for a rifled cannon and several shell caissons, because I had just committed the imprudence of describing to him the marvelous effects of these civilizing devices", he says, recalling his tense relationship with an unscrupulous potentate, representative of the King of Siam.

Today, for the traveler who knows or is about to discover this magnificent region between Paksé, Champassak, Saravane and the Vietnamese Cordillera, what a pleasure it is to imagine and recognize the sites, monuments and ethnic groups of that time. Following in the footsteps of Jules Harmand, that solitary empire-builder, discover these still virgin bastions with their strange customs, the high plateaus of the Bolovens or the extraordinary beauty of untamed torrents and vertiginous waterfalls. Take a look at Vat Phou, one of the many drawings by Eugène Burnand that illustrate the text: remove the colonial helmet and you're there - nothing has changed!

Now let yourself be drawn into the adventure. The author unleashes his pen like he wields his rifle!

Jules Harmand (1845-1921), after scientific and military studies, served in Indochina as a naval doctor and took part in Louis Delaporte's first archaeological mission.
In 1873, he fought the pirates who were ravaging Tonkin. He then devoted himself to exploring Cambodia and Laos in perilous conditions. His scientific and ethnographic surveys still set the standard.
In 1881, Dr Harmand embarked on a career in diplomacy, where he distinguished himself by obtaining the annexation of Tonkin to France. Passionate about colonial affairs, he published Domination et colonisation (Domination and Colonization) in 1910, on the advice of his friend Gustave Le Bon.
Jules Harmand's life brilliantly represents this generation of "military-scientists" - discoverers, conquerors, peacemakers, diplomats and administrators - who built the French colonial empire.

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