by Lang Reid
The Battered Butterfly
Jacobs is an American writer whose previous two books have been on
backgammon. This one is his first thriller. He is American but has lived
in eight countries and has had 14 different jobs, ranging from pizza
delivery to professional blackjack player. With that varied background
he has launched himself into the whirlpool that is book sales.
“The Battered Butterfly” (ISBN 978-1-5008-5103-3, self published, 2014)
has an attractive and colorful cover and is set in 1989 in Manila. The
central character is Lefty Markowitz, an overweight (280 pounds) ex-New
York policeman turned professional gambler.
Lefty is the narrator and has a droll sense of humor. I enjoyed the very
original turns of phrase such as “Let yourself be pigeonholed, and you
wind up covered with bird shit.” Describing a man sweating where “Mommy
Luz stared in fascination at the big clear drops, as though they were
crystal balls. Peer in them and see the future.” And you straight away
get the picture of a Japanese stand-over merchant “with a nose that
looked as if it had been flattened by repeated blows with a shovel:
Lefty guessed it had taken the first five blows just to get his
attention, and at least another five to hurt him.”
Lefty also states the well known truism of opening a bar as “… a
spectacularly bad idea, but fresh idiots are never in short supply, so
there are always plenty of bad restaurants and poorly run bars to choose
from.” The setting for that was Manila 1989, but it has a mirror image
in Pattaya still today.
A bar girl is violently murdered and Lefty finds himself in the middle
of the intrigue, much of it caused by his own pig-headedness. The
intrigue involves several different groups, all of which are definitely
not on Lefty’s side.
The action bowls along at a good pace, using short chapters which have
you turning pages frequently.
Another of the other main characters is well known to any SE Asia
ex-pat. The guy who owes everyone money, and yet manages, somehow, with
a plausible reason to avoid being forced at gunpoint to find the money.
However, eventually they all get found out and they have to leave, to go
to another ex-pat area in SE Asia where they ingratiate themselves, and
As the action rolls on, Lefty finds himself in the drug scene, something
he did not want at all.
You also get a potted history of the political scene in the Philippines
post Marcos, as the action hots up to a very busy ending, believe me!
I am sure the book is available through Asia Books/Bookazine or through
Amazon dot com, but I was given no RRP. Similar books of that genre are
generally around THB 450. It is a good read and one warms to the central
character Lefty Markowitz whose smart ass nature gets him into more
strife than Flash Gordon. However, he is a thinking smart ass and
applies logic to the situation, just as he does with his card playing. I
enjoyed the book, and Lefty Markowitz.
Americans in Thailand
before the end of 2014, a heavy book package was delivered to the review
desk. Hard back books, for me, represent something to savor. There is a
feeling of worth, value and longevity in such books, so I was not going
to skim through this book “Americans in Thailand”, (ISBN
978-981-43385-84-8, published by Editions Didier Millet, 2014).
Editions Didier Millet (EDM) was founded in 1989 in Paris by Didier
Millet. He opened a branch of EDM in Singapore in 1990, which soon
established itself as the headquarters and center of the business.
Today, EDM has offices in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
EDM enjoys an international reputation for their high-quality books, and
publishes approximately 30 new titles per annum in print form, and
around 15 ebooks. They have published over 500 titles in total, of which
some 130 are currently in print, comprising mainly general illustrated
and reference titles for the adult trade market. The chief subject areas
are travel, history, natural history, art, architecture, cookery and
lifestyle. The books are mainly about Southeast Asia, but not
exclusively so, and many of their titles have become standard reference
sources for art and culture enthusiasts as well as travelers.
The foreword was written by David Lyman who described the Americans in
Thailand as being “… characters, probably eccentric, self confident yet
aware of our limitations, ambitious and firm yet pragmatic and
compassionate, infected with wanderlust, romance and the search for high
adventure and what was exotic.”
The book looks chronologically at the sample of Americans, dating back
to a Captain Hale in 1818.
Many expats have heard of the Treaty of Amity but have no idea what,
where or how this happened. This book will tell you why Americans can
run businesses, while other nationalities cannot, dating back to a
fairly flawed piece of legislature signed by America and Siam in 1836.
The Americans looked at are divided into six time scales, 1818 to 1851
(the pioneering Americans), 1851-1868 (the Divided Americans), 1868-1945
(Distinguished Americans), 1945-1957 (Quiet Americans), 1957-1976 (Armed
Americans) and 1976 -2014 (Committed Americans).
The historical side has been well researched and the most famous
Amerasian Tiger Woods gets his honorable mention, with his mother
Kultida being a secretary at JUSMAG and against family wishes went to
the US with his father, an American Infantry Officer.
It is amusing to read of the attempts by the Thai leaders to repel
Americanisms such as the mini skirt and The Twist dance craze. The
government was unsuccessful.
With an Editorial team of 10, including such luminaries as William
Warren and Denis Gray, they have produced a marvelous book with
interesting appendices and photographs. All Americans should have this
on their bookshelves.
With a publication of this size and type, EDM called up sponsors with
the RMA Group, Bangkok Post, Citi, Pfizer, Minor International, Four
Seasons Hotels Thailand, Jim Thompson, Tilleke & Gibbins and Asian
Tigers all assisting to various degrees.
The RRP on the back cover is $39.90, but I suggest Amazon dot com could
be the way to go, if your local bookshop does not have it in stock.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
to Win Friends and Influence People, written by Dale Carnegie, (ISBN
978-1-4391-9919-0, Pocket Books, 1936) has been on the shelves for over 70
years. It has had the copyright renewed in 1964 and again in 1981, and this
paperback edition was printed in 2010. There are not too many books still on
the shelves with that kind of longevity.
I will admit that I had never read How to Win Friends and Influence People,
so I was interested to see if Carnegie’s book was still relevant in today’s
society, which is so different from the pre-WWII era in which Carnegie wrote
the blockbuster. This is partly answered by the preface, written by Dale
Carnegie’s wife, where she states that Dale Carnegie himself was a tireless
reviser of his own work and was constantly aware of the changes in the
society he was lecturing to. Later revisions after the death of Carnegie in
1955 just followed the same principle.
The back cover promises that the book can show you six ways to make people
like you, 12 ways to win people to your way of thinking and nine ways to
change people without arousing resentment, and “much, much more!” That is
certainly a big promise.
In his beginning, Carnegie emphasizes the teaching nature of the book, “you
will find yourself engaged in an educational process that is both intriguing
The book is written in a conversational style, which does take the sharpness
off the learning process and ‘humanize’ the lessons.
Early in the book, Carnegie puts forward the principle of getting results
through approval, rather than criticism, and cites many examples to show
just how the principle worked for others in a real-life situation.
It is important, says Carnegie, to differentiate between appreciation and
flattery. “One is sincere, the other insincere. One comes from the heart
out, the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish, the other selfish.”
Simple and little homespun perhaps, but of immense value when correctly
applied. This alone could win you friends.
At the end of each chapter he gives the reader (read ‘student’) a principle
to follow. Good practical advice. His Principle 3 is “Remember that a
person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any
There are many chapters dealing with arguments, and initially it seemed as
though his advice was to let the adversary win, but as I read further I
could see how he was getting around the problem, just as he was getting
around my initial doubts.
Initially, I was all prepared to write this book off as being the usual
self-help schmaltz but amazed myself in enjoying the reading, and seeing
where I too could improve my life (by improving my relationships with
others). Some of the people mentioned as examples do date the book, but do
not take away from the message. For B. 285 on the Bookazine shelves this is
still one of the best (and cheapest) of its genre. It may be 70 years old,
but obviously, the advice is timeless. Get it!