Lone Buffalo is the story of Maphet Mouidouangdy, a man born in the wrong place at the wrong time: Muang Khoun, Laos as the Secret War was reaching its climax in 1969 and American bombers were razing the last buildings to the ground. His family had just seen everything that it possessed destroyed. Maphet grew up in a communist state cut off from the outside world and littered with unexploded ordnance. For years he was bogged down in a mire of poverty, traditional values and the harrowing kck-on effects of the war, from which there seemed to be escape. But he was t prepared to give up his dreams of forging a better life for himself and his fellow men without a struggle. As much by accident as by design, he developed a skill set that allowed him to play a role in the reconciliation process that slowly gathered momentum as the years went by. He began reaching out to the country's remote ethnic mirity tribes, some of whom had been recruited by the CIA to act as America's fighting force on the ground during the war. When Laos finally reopened its borders with the outside world, he found himself rubbing shoulders with two of the more significant American figures from the war. He learned how to bridge the divide between East and West, connected up English, Lao and mirity language speakers, and showed that capitalist and communist value systems need t be incompatible. Events and conversations from his later years are documented in electronic records, but the narrative begins in an era where information passed only by word of mouth. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that t all versions of the early years agree. Truth has a degree of subjectivity to it in this part of the world, and a disarming habit of being stranger than fiction.
Born in London in 1959, Christopher Whitehouse is a writer/researcher with a wide range of interests that include choral music, hill walking and playing bridge. Prior to writing Lone Buffalo, he worked in protein redesign at Oxford University, where he completed a D.Phil., published several papers and helped to develop a technology that is now in the early stages of commercialisation. He met Manophet, whose extraordinary life this book describes, during his first visit to Laos in 2001, and promptly resolved to tell his story in writing. But when he finally got round to tackling the project a decade later he learned that his inspirational subject had recently passed away. It took several years to track down and interview his family, friends and the key figures from his past, who were by now scattered across three continents. Lone Buffalo is the resulting narrative - partially fictionalised: the tale of a local hero determined not to be beaten by his circumstances.