Book Review
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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

A mixed bag of books in 2009

Have you ever wondered just how a book comes to be reviewed?  For many books, it does depend upon how aggressively the publisher (or distributor) markets the book.  Part of the marketing is to send copies to known reviewers with credible media outlets, and I am pleased to report that Chiang Mai Mail is regarded very highly in that regard.  I can also assure that any book sent for review is read, and reviewed.
Of course, there are times when there are no books sitting on the reviewer’s table, and on those occasions we wander across to Bookazine, whose friendly staff will sometimes recommend a particular new book (and we thank them very much), or sometimes a book just happens to catch the reviewer’s eye.  “Andy Warhol” (ISBN 978-3-7913-3814-9, Prestel Publishing 2007) was one of those, and it turned out to be an excellent overview of the life of one of the world’s more controversial artists.  A controversy that is still going today, long after his death.
Was Warhol an artist, or just a marketer?  As he was also so busy dreaming up his next self-promotion, the coloring of his pictures was often left to others, and his mother forged his signature!  Warhol is even quoted as saying, “Sex and parties are the only things you have to show up for in person.”
The best reference book this year was “1000 Events That Shaped the World” (ISBN 978-1-4262-0314-5, National Geographic) which practically weighed down the shelves.  At B. 1,350 for this hard cover reference book, I suggested you buy it.  History never goes out of fashion.  A beautifully presented book.  Get it for your children if nobody else.
Where novels are concerned, Bangkok ex-pat Christopher G Moore is hard to beat and “The Corruptionist” (ISBN 978-616-90393-3-4, Heaven Lake Press, 2010) is a wonderfully suspenseful read.  In many ways, this is a ‘brave’ book.  There are many characters who are immediately recognizable, despite the usual disclaimers.  If this book were translated into Thai language, I would suggest Christopher Moore should catch the first plane out of the Kingdom.  Another riveting read from Christopher G Moore and one you should not miss.  Available at all good bookstores for B. 499.  Get it.
The Missing Years” (ISBN 9-7818-770-5877-6, Rosenberg Publishing, 2009), written by Chiang Mai expat Stu Lloyd, details the experiences of Captain Pilkington, a POW in WWII from Changi prison in Singapore to Hellfire Pass in Thailand.  This book records a major milestone in the history of WW II.  Very powerful and emotionally wringing.  Worth looking for.
Another book from the champion of the Esarn poor, Pira Canning Sudham, was an updated version of “The People of Thailand”, with the subtitle “The Damned of Thailand” and with a small addition “The Kingdom in Conflicts”.  Having previously written Tales of Thailand, Monsoon Country and The Force of Karma, and being from a poor family himself he is qualified to write on the subject.  Available at B. 395 at Bookazine, compulsory reading for anyone who wishes to understand Esarn and its people.
Another full year of reading is ahead.