If you are interested in Vientiane and Laos and want an insight into Lao life this is an excellent option. Written by an American working for the National Tourism office, Brett Dakin records his insights from living and working in Laos in 1998 for 2 years.
The style is light and readable but still manages to provide insightful observations of a developing country struggling with change and embracing it’s strong culture. Also check out Brett’s website http://www.brettdakin.com
Although it was written 10 years ago much of the detail of life in Vientiane has not changed significantly. In the preface to the 5th edition of Another Quiet American author Brett Dakin reflected following a a visit in 2010 that change had happened, but much remained the same
An extract from the new preface
My goal in writing Another Quiet American was not to change anyone or anything, but simply to document a specific period in the life of a city. It was a special time in Vientiane, a city on the verge of major transformation but firmly rooted in the past. One knew that big things were coming, but there was space to breathe before they arrived. For me, it was a time of unparalleled freshness and freedom—an irony given the limits of life under the current regime. I am glad that this period will live on through these pages, and (although I would like nothing more than to delete the occasional passage that today makes me cringe) to that end I have decided against revising any of the original content. What is more, given that so much about Vientiane, and Laos in general, has not changed at all, the key themes of the book seem to me to be as salient as ever.