A long-time New Mandala reader very kindly pointed out a fascinating account by Yale Richmond, a United States government official based in Laos in the 1950s. It is quite a story. Richmond tells us:

I arrived in Laos in June 1954 one month after the fall of Dien Bien Phu. The US mission was to support the Lao government in its efforts to prevent an insurgent movement, the pro-Communist Pathet Lao, from taking over the country. But most of the Lao people did not know that they lived in a sovereign state. Information about Laos and the rest of the world was sparse. The Lao government operated a few low-power radio stations and published a daily information bulletin in Lao and French, based on the Agence France Presse (AFP) wire service, but illiteracy was high and the reach of the radio and print media did not extend beyond the few provincial cities. Radio broadcasts from Thailand could be received but the low-cost transistor radio had not yet come to Laos. The term “nation building” had not yet been coined and we had no example to follow, but over the next two years my colleague Ted Tanen and I accomplished a few major achievements in Public Diplomacy.

I recommend reading the whole piece. It is, I suppose, a snapshot of another age.