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The Last Helicopter:
Two Lives in Indochina

A story of a young woman left behind and a young reporter coming of age in a world of war; a gripping memoir of Cambodia and Vietnam in the 1970’s.


As brutal wars in Cambodia and Vietnam come to swift and cataclysmic ends, a young reporter plans a last minute rescue of a woman he loved. The rescue fails

He is helicoptered out of the Cambodian capital days before its collapse and goes on to Vietnam in time to see the fall of Saigon. He vows somehow to return to keep his promise of rescue

Meanwhile, his former lover, Sinan, is trapped in what she calls “my prison without walls” at one of the Khmer Rouge’s infamous commune work camps

Drawn from recorded interviews with Soc Sinan and from the contemporaneous writings of Jim Laurie, The Last Helicopter captures the drama and tensions of the early 1970s, while also recalling places of grace and beauty now gone forever

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Praise for The Last Helicopter

“A love story on so many different levels; but most of all, the reflections of a man thumbing through the pages of old diaries, rekindling memories of a young war correspondent learning his craft and falling in love. Cambodia and Viet Nam are, first the backdrop and ultimately the essence of the story. This is a wonderful book.”

TED KOPPEL, Broadcast Journalist

“A gripping account of love, betrayal, and terror during the Second and Third Indochina Wars. It will change your idea of what it means to be a war correspondent, and what it means to survive war and genocide.”

CRAIG ETCHESON, Visiting Scientist, Harvard T.H. Chan School Public Health

“I could not put this book down; I was so deeply pulled into Jim Laurie's saga of his life as a reporter covering Indochina. Woven through his riveting account is the painfully poignant love story of the Khmer woman he loved and left behind... not only a triumph of first-hand reporting, but a story of deep emotion and profound honesty.”

CATHERINE KARNOW, author/photographer, Vietnam: 25 Years Documenting a Changing Country

“A genuine page turner. Sinan’s story is stunning. The grace with which Laurie interweaves his story with hers is a major triumph. An unforgettable love story in which an openness about pain is so honest that the story never seems long ago and far away.”

TOM BETTAG, Executive Producer CBS, ABC, Discovery

“A romantic wartime memoir which readers will find historically edifying, dramatically riveting and compassionate.”

JAY GRUNER, Former Senior CIA Operations Officer

"An eyewitness account of the tragic consequences of the U.S military intervention in Indochina together with the incredible true story of a Cambodian woman who survives the 'killing fields'. This is a thrilling war story.

KOSAL PATH, Associate Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College, CUNY

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About the Author

Jim Laurie is an award-winning international broadcaster, writer and media consultant who has witnessed many defining moments in Asia’s history over the past 50 years. A recipient of Emmy, Peabody and Overseas Press Club Awards, Jim roamed the world as a radio and television correspondent first for NBC News, 1972-1978, and then ABC News 1978-2000. He has produced and written documentary films on Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, and China and interviewed noted world leaders over the past 45 years including China’s Deng Xiaoping, India’s Indira Gandhi, Cambodia’s Norodom Sihanouk, the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

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