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Analyzes the Laotian revolutionary movement commonly known as the Pathet Lao — its leaders, commanding party (People's Party of Laos), the Lao Patriotic Front, the political and administrative organization, and military forces. PPL leadership is semisecret. No outsiders except North Vietnamese have had continuous intimate association with the elite. This analysis presents biographical information on 12 "founding fathers" who are probably among the leading policymakers, and discusses their characteristics. Leadership continuity is remarkable, having lasted through 20 years of intermittent war and coalition with no evidence of major purges or defections. The group includes hereditary lowland princes, tribal and ethnic chieftains, and self-educated men who enjoy the favor of the Vietnamese Communists. Chance seems to have been more important in determining affiliation than factors important elsewhere, such as ideology. Eight appendixes include biographies, policy statements, a list of fronts, and brief profiles of 53 informants.

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