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The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War
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The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  96 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
How the West's greatest spy in Asia tried to stop the new American way of war—and the steep price he paid for failingJim Thompson landed in Thailand at the end of World War II, a former American society dilettante who became an Asian legend as a spy and silk magnate with access to Thai worlds outsiders never saw. As the Cold War reached Thailand, America had a choice: Shou ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 13th 2011 by John Wiley & Sons (first published September 1st 2011)
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Marko Popovic
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
The story is too romanticized look into the life and character of Jim Thompson, as well as into the historical events and geopolitics that made him what he become. The whole story itself is, however, fascinating enough that you can't stop reading it. But the book lacks in-depth analysis, more intelligent and analytical overview of the geopolitical context and more intriguing details from the perspectives of all involved sides. It's like a beginners' guide into the so complex world of the South E ...more
Steve
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, lots of good information, tells the story of the politics at the time well... however I feel like it idolized the man a bit too much. But a good read nonetheless.
Thomas Locke
I really wanted to like this book. But the writer fails in his attempt to connect Jim Thompson and “The American Way of War.” My first criticism is the author’s lack of ‘feel’ for Thai culture. One such example is when he is criticizing a Thai general for his vain behavior. Kurlantzick mockingly refers to the general applying talcum powder to his face. For those of us who have lived in the Kingdom for any length of time we recognize this as a common way to ‘beat the heat,’ and is something done ...more
Bill
This is pretty good book. It deals with some historical issues that I found very interesting. Kurlantzick does a good job of portraying the shift in American priorities in South East Asia. Thompson was a deeply grounded in the anti-colonial mindset prevalent during the World War (1 & 2) era. He could never relate or really go along with a US Foreign Policy agenda that had anti-communism as its' only objective. He could understand and respect Ho Chi Minh. This was the beginning of the end for ...more
Sylvia
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Thompson is a fairly well known American expat who lived and worked in Thailand for twenty years from the mid 1940's to April 1967 when he mysteriously disappeared while on holiday. He worked for the CIA in Thailand and later established a silk farm which became world renowned. To me he seemed unlikeable, but for many years, he was immensely popular with both Thais and Americans. The best parts of the book for me, since I now live in Thailand, were the history of the Thai government and the ...more
Blair
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was initially very interesting in reading this book, having lived in Thailand for a number of years, shopped at Jim Thompson's Suriwongse store on many occasions, visited his home and now museum, as well as walked up to Moonlight Cottage in the Cameron Highlands, where Jim mysteriously disappeared on Easter Sunday in 1967.

I also really enjoyed William Warren's book on his friend, Jim Thompson, as it portrayed a really interesting character. Jim Thompson' story is still fresh even after nearly
...more
Harlan Wolff
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thailand
Jim Thompson was part of Bangkok folklore when I arrived in 1977. I have visited his teak classical Thai house that is now a museum and heard Patpong diehards suggesting their hypothesis on the reasons for his disappearance between drinks. This is the best book I have read on the subject and combines Thai history and OSS/CIA involvement in shaping modern Thailand. Like Jimmy Hoffa we will probably never know where the body was buried but this biography is an excellent insight into Jim Thompson's ...more
Alex Krembs
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Travelling in Thailand all these years - I often saw the Jim Thompson silk shop - and have also visited the museum located at his old residence in Bangkok. He is truly an icon amongst the expat community in Asia.

This book takes a deep dive into his life and does it well.
Gregory
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very interesting. allot of history fromm the post ww2 period in SE Asia. Perspective on how bad the Thai military and police were at the time. casts the current thai monarchy in a bad light, unfortunately wasn't conclusive as to whether the current thai king killed his brother.
Bubba
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating!
Ian Bebbington
Economist reviewed it Nov 11 2011
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