The Last Valley, by Martin Windrow, about the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Superb piece of work. I've been very interested in Dien Bien Phu for a long time but found Bernard Fall's Hell In A Very Small Place pretty hard going. TLV does a very good job of establishing the backdrop of the broader war and even more critically, the French political background. The book is also very good at conveying the sense of confidence, carnage, desperation and forlorn courage of the French garrison and really brings the paras and Legionnaires like Langlais, Bigeard et al to life. One really poignant thing the book conveys at the end is how many of the surviving officers were then sent to fight another savage guerilla war, this time in Algeria and, once again, were forced to abandon loyal locals when the government withdrew. The main drawback with the book is that it is still very Franco-centric though. Few of the Viet Minh players are described to anything like the same extent as the French ones. However, I suspect that has more to do with the French perspective being better documented.
Now reading Planet Germany. Very funny so far and there is a Malaysian-Chinese consultant (called Chang though) in there who does a lot of financial modelling and finds a mouse lurking behind his laptop and gets invited to demonstrate the use of chopsticks to hotel staff! Not entirely happy with my electric blue wheelie bag being described as gargantuan though!
Despite knowing I was supposed to feature in Planet Germany, I was *so* tempted to read Potty, Fartwell and Knob (a book on unfortunate English names, part of the same Amazon order) instead. Puerile? Me? Surely not...
Also now registered for Orbital/Eastercon and booked into the Marriot. Right, better bloody well book myself into the con hotel for Serenity: Complete!