Thursday, March 06, 2008

Reading in Vietnam

No way to post pictures in this net cafe - at least not my own. And too many thoughts and impressions of this kaliedoscope of a country to sensibly distil them into a blog post. Maybe in the future I'll put some together and stick them up here.

Anyway, reading here has been:

- Patrick o Brian 'The Surgeon's Mate' - these books are essential for long haul air travellers. Even Ryan Air customers can see that this is superior to cross continental travel two centuries ago. A long trip might take several months, involving scurvy, food riddled with weevils, 'jail-fever' and the very real possibility of drowning. You weren't so much a passenger as a survivor. Miss T feels I read too much of this author. 'When are you going to read some real books' she asks, so its on to...

- Neil Sheehan's 'Bright Shining Lie', which is a factual exploration of America's doomed involvement in Vietnam through the life of John Vann, a mad but inspired soldier. A trip through the Mekong Delta last week on a little boat filled me with awe. How can the US possibly have imagined they'd prevail in this terrain? This book explains the delusion which took ten years and hundreds of thousands of wasted lives to dispel.

- Now I'm Vietnammed out, so its Alison Weir's 'Henry VIII, King and Court'. A little dull so far, if I'm being honest, but I was fascinated to learn that cardinal Wolsey had a cat. And Katherine of Aragon had a monkey.

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