Americans in Thailand


Just 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.