Leonard H. Le Blanc III

by Zhou Daguan, edited and translated by Michael Smithies.

Siam Society, 2001, (4th revised edition).

The Khmer Empire and Angkor Wat still holds a remarkable fascination for many people even today. After almost a millennium of the height of its power and glory its retains its influence on our imaginations. Thais borrowed some of the Khmer Empire’s cultural artifacts that can still be seen today, like classical Thai dance, dress. and some of the Thai alphabet. This book is a fascinating look at the great empire and how it operated. The Customs of Cambodia is a book written by Zhou Daguan, the Yuan dynasty Chinese official, who resided in Angkor between 1296 and 1297. His account has great historical significance as it is the only surviving first person written record of daily life in the Khmer Empire. The only other available written information is from temple wall inscriptions. The Chinese author was part of a diplomatic mission sent by Timur Khan, grandson of Kublai Khan in 1297 to the court of Indravarman III (reigned 1295–1308). A very enjoyable read..

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Sumalee Books, 202 pages, 2021.

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

There is an old U.S. saying about New York City, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” We can add Phuket to that pithy phrase. Lynne Miller has done the business equivalent here by starting a Muay Thai (MT) gym, the same as climbing up Mount Everest by crawling backwards, upside down, without any equipment or oxygen and finally succeeding against impossible odds. MT is easily the most male dominated business in Thailand.

‘Fighting for Success’ is a completely riveting, mesmerising, cannot-put-it-down, Arnold-the-Terminator-delivered gut-punch exposé on how to do (or not do) business in Thailand. The book (and doing business here) is not for the faint of heart or the most cowardly lion. She immediately brings the whole MT business down to bare metal from paragraph one. I am reminded what Daniel Craig just told prospective aspirants about becoming actors: “Don’t do it!” ‘Fighting for Success’ sends the same message (or lesson) for would be expat MT entrepreneurs. The book is must read. As the British always say, “Not bad.”

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We are here today speaking with Steven W. Palmer, a noted regional author and “bon vivant”. His literary output includes The Angkor Series (Angkor Away, Angkor Tears and Angkor Cloth, Angkor Gold). ‘Turning the Tables – A Love Story for the Chemical Generation,’ ‘The Electric Irn-Bru Acid Test (The Glas Vegas Chronicles Book 1)’ In My Sights; A Political Thriller (The Danny Cleland Adventures Book 1),’ ‘QUADTYCH: Four Very Different Stories’, and ‘Me! I Disconnect From You.’ He is a Scottish expat living in Cambodia.

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

What got you interested in writing?

An amazing English teacher at school called Miss Woods. She set us an exercise to write a short story and I basically plagiarised ‘Shane’ (unintentionally). While she told me off for copying the idea, she saw something in my style and encouraged me to write more. 

What has changed in SE Asia the most?

I have lived in Cambodia since 2013 and even in those eight years, you can see the modernisation of Phnom Penh as more and more soulless skyscrapers are added to the skyline. Siem Reap has very few monstrosities and is a very green city (dust from current roadworks apart). As for Thailand, I returned there in 2012 after eight years and felt that Bangkok had lost even more than it had since my first visit in 1994.

What has changed here the least?

It has to be the people. Though (in the cities at least) I sometimes feel that people have lost some of their openness and friendliness, for the most part, in both Cambodia and Thailand, it is the people who make the place. 

What are you working on now?

I have just finished my fifth novel, ‘The Riel Thing,’ which, unusually for an expat authored novel has its main character as both Asian and female. It launches officially at the Angkor Writers and Readers Festival – 2021, taking place in Siem Reap between the 10th and 12th December 2021.

I’m having a break from writing until the New Year, and will then jump back into ‘Bangkok Drowning,’ a dystopian novel that is set in mid-21st century Bangkok. I already have 25,000 words for it, so it is not starting from scratch. 

What do you do for fun?

I have a weekly radio show playing reggae, dub, ska, etc., and also DJ in Siem Reap. As well as music, I read (of course), and am a Netflix junkie (have around fifteen shows am currently watching).

What are your favorite foods?

From Thailand, my favourite is Khao Soi Gai. From Cambodia my favourite is Fish Amok or Saraman Curry and the rest of world is proper fish and chips or lasagna. 

Where are your favourite places to go?

Since I moved to Siem Reap, I plan to buy a one year pass and exploring the Angkor Park properly rather than as a tourist. In Thailand, I love Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. I also love Langkawi and hope to get there again in early 2022.

What writers inspired or inspire you?

Growing up, my favourite authors were Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. Then I sort of grew into Hemingway, Hunter S. Thomson, Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey. Iain Banks has to be in my top three writers of all time so has to be mentioned too.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to move to SE Asia?

Do not jump the gun and just move. Spend some time here and get a feel for the region and the different cities to see what is the best fit. Look at how you will fund yourself if you plan to live here long term. Also look at visas as Thailand is becoming more difficult while Cambodia is fairly easy. If you have health issues of any type, look at healthcare provision in the areas you like. You ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto. 

What do you see is the future for yourself?

Ha, ha, ideally? Selling lots of books and seeing at least one made into a film. In reality, continuing my daytime gig of writing for corporations to make a living and churning out fiction in the hope that dreams come true one day. 

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Next Chapter, 2021, 200 pages.

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

I once read ‘Henderson the Rain King,’ a Pulitzer Prize nominated effort by Saul Bellow. The story’s protagonist was visiting my old hometown of Danbury, Connecticut, USA, so I could easily visualise his geographical movements. But I quickly discarded it. First, it was death-by-boring. Second, I wanted the bitch slap the protagonist for being a silly, empty headed, clueless ninny. Third, if this was selected as one of the best books of the 20th century then there was something extremely wrong with the damn selection committee. No bloody way. I can write a better book than this.

Then along comes ‘Angkor Away’ by Steven Palmer. It immediately straps you in for a wild triple corkscrew rollercoaster ride of pure fun, grand adventure and spirited high jinks. I loved the witty, inventive narrative, lightning quick plot pace and sheer readability. A perfect example of why people walk into a book store and want something entertaining to high dive right into. This is that book. Enjoy. Five stars. Cannot wait for the sequels. As the British blandly say: “Not bad.”

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by Steve Rosse

Kindle edition, 191 pages, 2020.

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

Some people completely shun life. We call them hermits. Almost everyone else deals with life as best they can. But a few rare people are just like King Kong. They furiously beat their chests, loudly wailing about all the many indignities, injustices and incivilities that life afflicts upon them. That’s Steve Rosse. But just like King Kong, Steve frequently scales the literary Empire State Building for all to see, fighting off critics (or airplanes) and holding forth in print for his many fans on his take about (his) life.

Steve has done it once again. In climbing the Bangkok-based literary fictional heights with his latest effort, ‘Bangkok Buckaroo.’ A yippy-ki-yo-kai-yay, slap-leather-pard’ner-at-high-noon-on-main-street, rollicking detective noir page turner set in Bangkok’s famous Soi Cowboy with the usually attendant black hats, cattle rustlers, card sharps, faro dealers, stagecoach hold up desperadoes, pistoleros, and no-good-nicks. All done to his finely tuned ear for the richly endowed local expat dialogue with heavy doses of wit, simile and colour. Another winner here Steve. Now you can happily ride off into the sunset.

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From the curious and controversial to the heroic and hardy by Duncan Stern.

DCO Books, 2019, 179 pages.

For any serious expat who decides to stay long term, they quickly discover the country has an immensely rich history, a vibrant culture, diverse geography, delicious (if spicy) cuisine, an endless selection of social activities plus things to keep you constantly amused or engaged – from bar hopping, diving, hiking, parasailing, visiting ancient monuments and temples to tramping on jungle treks, riding an elephant, touring or just relaxing in serene tranquility. Thailand is a delight for most.

The late Duncan Stern, a noteworthy local prolific author and long time resident, had added to the reading enjoyment of those with an interesting recital of Thailand’s long history. Through a summary of interesting historical events both inside and outside the Kingdom, he has penned a book of historical vignettes that is sure to delight anyone interested in the fascinating history of Thailand. He draws on a wide variety of historical sources to glean the most interesting small slices of Thai history. A most fascinating read. 5 stars. 

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Japanese Military Transport on Thai Railways during World War II by Ichiro Kakizaki.

White Lotus Press, 2019, 303 pages.

All WWII buffs, most Thais, those who survived the terrible ordeal, and hardcore cinema buffs all know about ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, ‘The Death Railway’. Based on Pierre Boulle’s 1952 book and an epic 1957 film by David Lean, both are classics.


Ichiro Kakizaki has rendered noteworthy service to Thailand’s history by detailing the almost unknown tale of the four year struggle between the Japanese military and Thai government officials in constantly wrestling over control of the Royal Thai Railway System. The Japanese commandeered almost all of Thailand’s rolling stock from the first day to use for military purposes. The Thais fought a constant battle to regain the railroads for their own civilian use. Highly detailed and well researched, the book does credible service in pinpointing where all the Japanese garrisons were located, plus where and when the railways were used. The tremendous struggle went right down to the war’s last day. For all WWII and Thai history buffs plus railway enthusiasts.

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The Nora Bird Dance of Southern Thailand and Dancing for the Gods, Vol. 2: 

The endangered spirit lineage of Nora Dance in Southern Thailand by Marlane Guelden.

White Lotus Books, 2018 & 2019, 425 pages & 424 pages.

These books are the first comprehensive look at the Nora Bird Dance of Southern Thailand. The author uses many years of cultural anthropological research along with many Thai academic sources and texts that have never been translated in English. She tells a compelling story about the struggle between ancient customs and traditions pitted against encroaching modernity. The Nora Bird Dance is famous for its loud, colourful dance drama and spirit possession. It is an exploration of the ancient Nora (Manora) Buddhist community.

Marlane Guelden does credible service in exploring the real back story of the Nora Bird Dance: the capitalist motives, spirit mediums in their communications with the spirit world and gender tensions. Additionally she digs into the history, ancient and Buddhist traditions and background of the whole very fascinating culture. For anyone interested in ethnic dance, Southern Thai culture and ancient rituals.

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by Andrew Hicks

Monsoon Books, Ltd. Pte., 296 pages, 2011.

I was in graduate school here in Bangkok one fine day a decade ago. We had a special guest lecturer, a Thai man educated in England most of his life, then lived overseas after. His speech (or lamentation) was all on how Thais should be more like “foreigners” (read: westerners). Thais were inefficient, not well organised, always running late, the list of faults went on. I should have said then “Thais have developed their society over several millennium to deal with problems as they see them to make the society work as a whole. In my mind the way Thai society operates is what makes it charming, even exotic”.

Andrew Hicks has written a charming personal take on his experience with Thai society. He was written a very accurately observed, insightfully astute effort on interacting closely with Thais. He is most perceptive on his take of the ups and downs in living in the LOS. A most enjoyable read.

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New book unveils the mystery behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq




   Contact the FCCT 02-652-0580, ext. 13 or [email protected] for more details

Web site:

Prolific author Dr. Leonard H. Le Blanc III brings forth another revealing read that many would never have thought happened or that it’s still even on-going. With an honest and an unrelenting mission to expose a glimmer of truth, “The Perfect U.S. “Deep State” Operation” reveals the real reason the U.S. invaded Iraq during Gulf War II.

It is the largest theft in American history. It is the largest cover-up in American history. It is the biggest scandal and cover-up in U.S. Marine Corps history, the assassination of a stalwart Colonel who investigated the titanic thievery. It is the largest group of Americans to simultaneously betray their country since at least the U.S. Civil War. It is also the biggest unsolved mystery in U.S. history: Why did the U.S. invade Iraq during Gulf War II? It is the greatest example of a perfect U.S. “Deep State” operation that is still on-going.

This book is available online and for purchase at the FCCT, WRITERS REPUBLIC and Amazon

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