Eating Smoke — a question and answer with the author, Chris Thrall – Part 1/5

October 16, 2011

Guest-Post by Tom Carter
Interview with Chris Thrall, author of Eating Smoke

Tom Carter, author of “CHINA: Portrait of a People”, catches up with Chris Thrall to discuss his new book “Eating Smoke, a memoir about Thrall’s descent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong’s triad heartland.

In the fall of 2009, whilst traveling in India to create my next photography book, I was contacted via email by a British writer who had read Down and out in Hong Kong, one of my online travel articles, which described this poor, dusty backpacker’s real-time impressions of Asia’s wealthiest city.

Chris Thrall said he connected with my article’s conclusion that, in spite of my western heritage, and due to my personal circumstances, I ultimately had more in common with the destitute third-world inhabitants of the Chungking Mansions, the infamous immigrant ghetto of Kowloon, than I did with the rich white bankers et al who comprise the other half of Hong Kong’s multinational population.

Chris went on to explain that he was writing a book about his own experiences living in Hong Kong, which was dramatically different from mine or any other expatriate I ever knew, and that he once worked for the 14K, the world’s largest Chinese crime family.

Attached to his email was the first chapter of his memoir, a gripping opening salvo that finds the narrator hiding from pursuing henchmen on a roof top—alongside two corpses, a disemboweled mother and child.

As a voracious reader, I know a bestseller when I see it.  I immediately forwarded Chris’s manuscript to my publisher in Hong Kong, Pete Spurrier, who runs the iconic Blacksmith Books, which specializes in Asian-themed literature.

Pete likewise was knocked off his feet by Chris’s incredible story; the next I heard, Chris was a fellow Blacksmith label mate with a book deal.

Chris Thrall was born in the UK. At eighteen, he joined the Royal Marine Commandos. Following active service in the Northern Ireland Conflict and training in Arctic warfare and survival, he earned his parachutist’s ‘wings’ and went on to serve as part of a high-security detachment onboard an aircraft carrier. In 1995, Chris moved to Hong Kong to oversee the Asia-Pacific expansion of a successful network-marketing operation he’d built, part-time, while serving in the Forces. Less than a year later, he was homeless, hooked on crystal methamphetamine and working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest triad crime family, as a doorman in Wanchai’s infamous red-light district.

Eating Smoke, a humorous yet deeply moving first book, is his account of what happened.

Continued on October 17, 2011 in Eating Smoke – Part 2, or if you have time and do not want to wait for the five-part series to finish posting daily, click View as Single Page.

__________________________

Travel photographer Tom Carter is the author of CHINA: Portrait of a People, a 600-page book of photography from the 33 provinces of China, which may be found on Amazon.com.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.


Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – Part 10/10

August 24, 2010

On the third day of Gettysburg during Picket’s charge up another hill, only 5,000 survived of 12,000 troops.  Sun Tzu would have been horrified.

Sun Tzu says, “When troops flee, are insubordinate, collapse or are routed in battle, it is the fault of the general.”

Sun Tzu sees a commanding general as someone intelligent and cunning and never rash or arrogant, which is the opposite of the commander of the Chu army more than two thousand years ago.

Sun Tzu won the war against Chu, which had an army ten times larger than his. He did this through preparation, deception and indirect attacks.

After winning the war against Chu, Sun Tzu retires and writes The Art of War.

The first line of Sun Tzu’s rules of war says, “War is a matter of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, survival or ruin.

Continued in Conclusion to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, return to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (HQ)- Part 9 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – Part 7/10

August 22, 2010

During the invasion of Normandy, the allies survived on death ground exactly as Sun Tzu predicted by fighting together and never giving up.

Sun Tzu meant when you put troops in a combat position where they must fight or die, there is no choice but to fight.

Another reason the Allies succeeded during D-day was another of Sun Tzu’s rules of war. He said, “It is essential for victory that generals are unconstrained by their leaders.”

The allied command structure gives total authority to General Eisenhower as supreme commander.

However, Germany under Hitler did not have the same command structure.

Hitler had set up a confusing system of overlapping authority so no one had total control over the military leaving Hitler the only one who made final decisions.

Hitler’s command structure is a perfect example of what Sun Tzu says about “no interference from the leader”.

The allies in France are bogged down in difficult terrain. The combat losses are horrible and little progress is made.

The solution is found in Sun Tzu’s rules of war. “Make your enemy prepare on his left and he will be weak on his right.”

The allies will follow this rule.

Go to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – Part 8 or return to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – Part 6

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – 5/10

August 21, 2010

It is about 500 BC in China and Sun Tzu’s hit-and-run campaign against the state of Chu is working.  The Chu prime minister is starting to lose support and the moral of his troops is dropping.

Throughout the countryside of Chu, there is fear of where Sun Tzu will strike next. When the larger Chu army threatens one of Sun Tzu’s allies, Sun Tzu uses another rule of war, “To move your enemy, entice him with something he is certain to take.”

Then, when his own forces are surrounded, Sun Tzu says, “Put the army in the face of death where there is no escape and they will not flee or be afraid – there is nothing they cannot achieve.” See The Long March

What happened to Sun Tzu in China when his small army was surrounded also happened on June 6, 1944 when allied troops in World War II invaded Europe during D-day.

Sun Tzu says, “All warfare is deception. If you can deceive your enemy before battle, you are more likely to win.”

That’s what General Eisenhower did before the invasion of Normandy. To succeed, the allies used deception to convince the Germans the attack would not take place in Normandy.

Go to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – Part 6 or return to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War – Part 4

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – 3/10

August 20, 2010

Sun Tzu liked the enemy to maneuver and respond to his moves. This way he was in charge of the battlefield.

A US report after the Vietnam War revealed that 80% of the time, it was the North Vietnamese and Vietcong who decided where and when to fight.

Sun Tzu said, “Once you know the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, you can avoid the strengths and attack the weaknesses.” At the beginning of the war, almost 80% of Americans supported it.

As the Vietnam war continued with mounting US causalities, that support at home shifted against the war, which achieved another of Sun Tzu’s rules, “The skillful leader subdues enemy’s troops without any fighting. One does not win wars by winning battles.”

Although the North Vietnamese and Vietcong did not win battles, they won the war by turning the American people against it. To achieve this goal, the North Vietnamese commander was willing to lose ten men for every American killed.

In the end, the US lost 53 thousand troops and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong more than a million with several million more noncombatants killed as collateral damage to the American bombing.

Sun Tzu felt spies were important, and he devoted one chapter to spies.  He said, “Use your spies for every kind of business,” and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong followed that advice.

Sun Tzu said, “An accurate knowledge of the enemy is worth ten divisions.”

He also said, “Let your plans be as dark as night – then strike like a thunderbolt.”  The Tet Offensive in January of 1968 was that thunderbolt.

Go to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – Part 4 or return to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” (HQ) – Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline