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Harold Stephens: The Strange Disappearance of Jim Thompson


New Member
This is book by Harold Stephens about the most famous expat in southeast Asia, whose name was really Jim Thompson. He is the guy, for those who do not know, who established the silk industry in Thailand and Laos as a major international industry. he worked for OSS during WWll in Thailand and stayed after the war. He once was part owner of oriental Hotel in Bangkok, and was a major collector of Southeast asian antiques. His house is one of the major tourist attractions today in Thailand.

He went walking in Cameron Highlands in Malaysia in 60s and was never seen again. This remains an unsolved mystery and there are many theories, including the most popular one which is that he was working for CIA and he was abducted and murdered by his enemies.

As he had many connections in Laos due to the silk business, there are often rumors he is there today. There is another rumor he was imprisoned in Communist China.

This is a good book which not only is a very detailed crime story but also an interesting biography. Jim Thompson was not the usual stereotype of greedy western businessman. He only took a small salary from his company and did much to help the poor of Thailand and Laos. Because of him many people in silk industry who were in poverty have established their own successful businesses, employing hundreds of people.