Book Review: By Lang Reid
book with Bangkok bar girls, but fortunately, no sick buffalos, in Bangkok
Vanishing (ISBN 978 0615424217, The Exotic Press, Thailand release March
2011). With so many books set in Bangkok, I must admit that I approach the
reviews of this genre with trepidation. I need not have worried, author Eric
Rogers has managed to elevate the book well above many others with “Bangkok”
in the title.
The plot revolves around Blake Lawrence, an American ex military man and an
accomplished killer who finds a night of dalliance with a Bangkok bar girl
changes his life. He questions his role in society, his role as a husband
and father, he projects himself as the savior of the bar girl, all the time
attempting to justify why he did not just walk away from the situation with
her. Was this ‘true love’ he wonders? Then he wonders if the feelings he has
for the 18 year old Thai girl are the same as he has for his own daughter.
By this stage Blake Lawrence is totally and utterly psychologically at sea.
Unfortunately for the central character, all was not as it seemed from the
outside, and he finds himself being blackmailed, putting his other life in
America in danger of implosion.
And implode it does, but fortunately the central character has two war
buddies from the Marines who will help their friend Blake without question.
Military training assisting here.
Rogers is obviously a big bike enthusiast with descriptions of riding at the
limit, which only someone who has experienced this could put into words.
Doing ‘stoppies’ on Sukhumvit Road requires a greater knowledge than that
gleaned from pillion riding behind motorcycle taxis.
The plot nicely dovetails as the disparate members of the cast are
inexorably drawn together for a final showdown.
As the end approaches, so the brutal action increases as predators meet the
military, and the speed of the action is breathtaking, author Rogers
shortening the chapters as the reader scans voraciously. Will the American
(kinda good guys) trio win over the three Thai bad guys?
Author Eric Rogers has done a good job with this book, it reads well with a
speedy plot reminiscent of Burdett’s Bangkok 8, but goes deeper than that
with his psycho-analytical approach of the central character, Blake
Lawrence. The American indulges in self-analysis, alternately attempting to
remain a ‘good guy’ in the eyes of the world, while at the same time trying
to justify his course of action as regards the bar girl Geng.
The finale I found a little too Alice in Wonderland, or too contrived, but
it is a work of fiction in the thriller genre after all.
For some readers, this book might just open a few eyes (and close a few
wallets) as regards liaisons with bar girls. It may also show some readers
that Thailand has a rich culture, even though the majority of the Thais are
not rich. And on the other hand, it might show that Americans on holiday
have too much money!
No price as we went to press, but expect around B. 550.
Book Review: By Lang Reid
The Next Decade
would seem that everyone is interested in the future, and Author George
Friedman has already written “The Next 100 Years” but none of us reading
this review will still be around next century. However, almost all the
readers would hope to be around for the next decade.
Friedman’s “The Next Decade” (ISBN 978-0-385-53294-5, hardcover, Doubleday,
2011) promises a look at where we have been and where we are going. In the
Author’s Note he promises the book would, “Look at the issues, opportunities
and inherent challenges of the next ten years.”
It is very American in its ambit, but the fact that vast tracts of the globe
trade with the US, makes the USA the de-facto trading partner for the world.
It is this that gives the US its power, says Friedman, and produces the
American empire. And the leader of the empire is the American President.
Friedman states, with some conviction and credibility that Lincoln,
Roosevelt and Reagan “… each was a profoundly moral man … who was prepared
to lie, violate the law and betray principal to achieve those ends (setting
the stage for the American empire).”
Friedman asserts that “… like Rome in the time of Caesar, the United States
has reached a point where it doesn’t have a choice as to whether to have an
empire or not. The vastness of the American economy, its entanglement in
countries round the world, the power and world-wide presence of the American
military, are in effect imperial in scope.”
The book deals with the post 9-11 terrorism and the 2008 financial crash.
Friedman points out that the sub-prime mortgage debacle was not just an
“American” bubble that burst, but one that encompassed Eastern Europe as
well. Banks were offering low rate loans, but these were quoted in euros,
Swiss francs and even yen. With falling exchange rates for his zlotys, the
middle European home buyer faced higher and finally impossible repayments.
Gambling on the global currency markets would be a disaster. And it was.
The book looks at the inter-country relationships and their direction in the
next decade. The Israel - American situation is examined, after an
explanation of the Jews-Syrian Arabs situations. Friedman points out that
after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the later French and British
meddling with borders, there were very few national allegiances.
Friedman proposes that in the next 10 years America will have to retreat
somewhat in its relationship with Israel and move closer to the Arab states.
With the current Middle East problems, one is left wondering if this is
already happening before our eyes. We may not have to wait for the decade.
Cogent argument is given as to why the US has to leave the Iranian nuclear
facilities free from attack to preserve the balance with Turkey, a nation
which has a clearer 10 year future. Now add in Russia, SE Asia, Africa,
e-commerce, technology and more.
At B. 830 for a hardback edition, this is a fascinating book, particularly
as it has many very salient points and the research leading up to today is