In the 1970s, Dmitri Yurasov was a precocious Moscow schoolboy obsessed with Russian history. He began reading the imposing 16-volume Soviet Historical Encyclopedia, which put the official Communist Party stamp to the glorious advances of the Lenin and Stalin years.
Only when Yurasov came across the odd description of a dead scholar as “illegally repressed and rehabilitated after his death” did he get his first inkling that Stalin had jailed and murdered millions in the Great Terror of the 1930s.
As a budding scholar, Yurasov later secured a job working in the Soviet archives and surreptiously burrowed deep into the secret records to begin recapturing the Soviet Union’s suppressed history.
Ying Vang was just a small boy when Gen. Vang Pao sent a helicopter to rescue his family from the jungles of Laos. He remembers his parents putting their fingers to their lips and saying “Shhh” because North Vietnamese soldiers were nearby. The women and children ran to the helicopter, which airlifted them to safety. Ying Vang’s father stayed behind with the rest of the men to fight.
A couple of years later, Vang Pao came to visit Ying Vang’s school. Despite the chaos, the Hmong general had ordered schools to be built in remote locations of the Laotian jungle. Now he was coming to personally deliver supplies. Ying Vang was in second grade and remembers Vang Pao handing each student a case of paper, pencils and textbooks.