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Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos Paperback – October, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A delightful insight into one of the forgotten nations of Southeast Asia." -- Metro magazine


"A fascinating account, full of sharp insights about a country at a turning point in its history." -- Bangkok Post

"A must for anyone looking to understand Laos today." -- Jeff Cranmer, author of Rough Guide Laos

"A thought provoking book... Dakin writes with a maturity well beyond his years... An excellent book..." -- Lang Reid, Pattaya Mail

"An excellent contribution to a better understanding of life in Asia." -- Far Eastern Economic Review

"An intimate and honest look at the genteel chaos of a country that is deeply troubled but also highly inspiring." -- Amit Gilboa, author of Off The Rails In Phnom Penh

"Honest, well written, entertaining and informative." -- South China Morning Post

"No other personal account of contemporary Laos is as informative, under-the-surface and well written." -- Joe Cummings, author of Lonely Planet Laos

"Probably the best introduction available on modern Vientiane." -- Farang Magazine

About the Author

Brett Dakin grew up in London and has lived in Washington, Tokyo, Vientiane, Vienna, Sarajevo, The Hague, and New York City. Brett is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. His writing has appeared in the International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Guardian. Brett is currently Chair of Legacies of War, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the Vietnam War-era bombing of Laos, and Princeton's East Asian Studies Advisory Council.
Please visit brettdakin.com and "like" my Facebook author page.  Thanks!
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Asia Books; Later Printing Used edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9748303683
  • ISBN-13: 978-9748303680
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,399,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful read. It takes you to a far away place in Southeast Asia. It gives an in-depth view of the people who have lived in Laos from the point of view of a young American who lived and worked there for two years. Here is a short review of the French colonization of Indochina, the American war in Vietnam, Communism in Asia, immigration to America, the importance of tourism, foreign aid programs, the drug trade. It's all here in the stories of real people: Laotians and foreigners who reside in Laos in the forests of the north, along the Mekong River and in the capital city of Vientiane. This is a must read for students of Southeast Asia, travellers who have been or plan to go to that part of the world and for just about anyone who wants a better understanding of the interaction of people from Europe and America with the people of Asia. Readers will learn a lot about Laos but they will also come away with a very thoughtful understanding of the people who have lived in Laos.
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"Another Quiet American" is a wonderful book full of insights about a secluded country rapidly transforming as it attempts to open itself to foreign tourism and modernity. The author does a superb job painting a picture of the geography and culture of Laos as well as grappling with questions about its present and future economic state. There aren't many books like this one dealing with Laos in such an insightful and cosiderate manner. Great job!!!!
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Having travelled several times to Asia, but never to Laos, I was intrigued by the journalistic nature of the book. Not only did I learn a heck of a lot about Laos, but was entertained as Brett struggled through many hardships and ultimatedly survived and triumphed during his 2-year experience. His writing style is refreshingly open-minded and honest- The book is very easy to read. I feel like I shared a lot of his experience and would have made many of the same assumptions and mistakes that he did... But I didn't have to leave the comfort of my home! I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
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I recently been to Laos early 2004, it was nice to compare my experience with that of Mr. Dakins, being that we are as he put it, "in the same age group." By the time Mr. Dakins had his experience in Laos, things have changed very dramatically since his tenure, so its not an exact comparison, (myself being Lao-American).

Every step of the way, i tried to imagine his encounters with that of my own experience, and i have some of the same notions, although i never talked politics when i was there, which for me was the first time I've step foot in Laos since my families own exodus some 25 years ago.

Mr. Dakins nicely link the present circumstances with that of past, giving a nice history lesson along the way, but especially putting a face on that history made the book ever more interesting.

Although my own experiance is one i will never forget, and one i truely love, my return and how i will look upon that return next year(2005)will be effected by Mr. Dakins writing, that is to play less and to imagine more. Being that my own family was mentioned in the book, and being from North Carolina, lets say i have connected well with the literature very well.

His experience was almost like my own, the Honda dream from which most of my liaisons occured, the wealthy families that I encountered and their snobbish attitudes, but especially my encounters of the people he considered the lost generation.

I enjoyed the book very much, and do recommend it, even though some of the parts i do question.
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Format: Paperback
What I really liked about this book was Brett Dakin's ability to write what he saw as he saw it without adding a ponderous analysis, and maintaining his perspective as a wide eyed foreigner learning and listening rather than trying to pass himself as an expert which is a temptation for any author.

I read it at the start of my trip to Laos and, apart from several hours of enjoyable reading, it offered me insights into the Lao which helped me with my own interactions with the locals and gave me a better idea of how I was perceived by the Lao.

I recommend it for anyone wanting to get a feel for Laos.
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While I did not live in Laos (I have visited) I had a simillar coming of age experience in Japan. Dakin does a great job at describing a still very unknown land (who even knows where Laos is), the beautiful people, and the angst he experiences as a just graduated Princetonian.
His descriptions of his office (picture a small three - four room office in a non-descript soviet era office building) and his own small "house" are particularly interesting for people who have not been there before. The sounds, sights and smells of the streets of the capital city come alive as Dakin explores the city on his Honda Dream motorcycle.
Most importantly he describes the relationship Laos has as one of the world's poorest countries with Developed nation's AID agencies. There is a great chapter on consultants in which he talks about a Japanese tourism consultant who is really a retired manufacturing employee who knows little to nothing of Laos, and nothing about tourism development.
If you are interested in learning more about a wonderful country Dakin's book is a must read.
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