Bangkok Found by Alex Kerr pierces deeply into the art, culture and people of Thailand in a book that reads more like an inspiring travel narrative than a stuffy research project. Countless cultural intricacies will surface if you read this before a trip to Bangkok.
As an American scholar of Japanese arts, Kerr learned Japanese fluently and wrote the acclaimed book, Lost Japan, before taking up a residency in Thailand during the middle of his life. In Bangkok Found, his comparisons with Japanese art and culture help to clarify exactly what he finds so remarkable about Thai art and culture, inspiring readers to do the same.
Blending memoir with anthropology and art history, Kerr unleashes a cascade of details about Thai religious and mythical iconography, flower garlands, food, architecture, traditional dance, fine arts and more, with most of the insights anchored in the real-life gears of Bangkok. A chapter on polite behaviour from the Thai perspective, titled "Walking Softly," should be required reading for all visitors to Thailand.
While the depth and accuracy of Bangkok Found stacks up to any dry academic work, the knowledge is often presented by way of anecdotes relating to real people and experiences. The result is a book that's engrossing and educational in equal measure.
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