The original purpose of this book was to put in print a sort of “survival manual,” exposing certain truths and un-truths about the Southeast Asian forests for the benefit of those who wanted to enter them or who were required to do so. The author has chosen to compile instead a series of essays portraying true adventures in Asian jungles that he has roamed since he was a boy. The theme throughout this volume is that of an American, an “Intruder,” who was privileged to have associated closely enough with Montagnards – Lahu tribesmen of Northern Thailand, in this case – to have learned much about life in the jungles and among the jungle people…
…This volume will have achieved its main purpose if it gives further understanding as to why many Americans speak with new fondness about a people they hardly knew to exist before the Vietnam experience. It is because of these simple, honest, brave people that many Americans have remained in Vietnam, in Laos and in Thailand for additional tours of duty. It was the predominant reason for the author’s long sojourn in Southeast Asia. For it is not too far-fetched to say that we found in these hidden corners of the world people who are truly separate from the chaos and complications of more progressive societies. The Lahus of Thailand and Burma, the other Montagnards of Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos, speak different dialects but all have in common an intense devotion to their way of life and the land on which they live.
– Extracted from Gordon Young, Tracks of an Intruder: A Fascinating Firsthand Account of How an American Naturalist Gained Recognition as a Master Hunter from the Montagnard Lahu Tribesmen of Southeast Asia, New York: Winchester Press, 1967 (1970), p.12.
New Mandala readers who are keen to learn more about this period of American involvement in northern Thailand could begin with this section from Alfred McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (1973). Gordon Young and other members of his family are mentioned a number of times.