Book Review
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Bangkok Vanishing

The Next Decade

Book Review: By Lang Reid

Bangkok Vanishing

Another 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

It 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 quite compelling.