The Courant’s Interview

July 20, 2013

Here’s the lead-in to the Hartford Courant’s nice interview. The entire piece is at,0,7282443.story
The book is available through, and at other locales.

Special To The Hartford Courant
July 21, 2013

To people of a certain age, especially journalists, Denis Horgan’s fourth book, “The Bangkok World,” (296 pages, Bluefoot Publishing, $25) evokes memories of a misty distant past: when his home, Boston, had six daily newspapers (Hartford had two); when newsrooms ran on cigarettes, coffee, and whiskey; when the type was hot (molten lead) and being a reporter was not. Newspapering was viewed as a rung above riding shotgun on a garbage truck (maybe).

Horgan confesses: “I did not set out to become a newspaper guy any more than someone sets out to become an alcoholic or a drug addict; it happens that many of us might end up that way but no one starts out with that as The Plan.”

Happenstance, it turns out, isn’t always terrible, and the author’s love for his lifelong calling is vivid, even moving. After leaving Thailand, he enjoyed a distinguished career at The Washington Star and the Hartford Courant, where he was an award-winning columnist for decades. His writing is crisp, conversational, and insightful. He can turn a phrase on a dime.

His book focuses on the years 1966 to 1971, when the Vietnam War was getting bigger but not better. Horgan began that period serving in the U.S. Army, stationed in Thailand, and he sometimes squired journalists about. But when his tour ended, he stayed on to become, at age 26, the editor and publisher of The Bangkok World, an English-language daily. His most significant previous journalistic experience was as a copy boy at the Boston Globe.

The book is richly illustrated with three dozen black and white photographs by William Harting, the author’s colleague at the paper and the author of several books of photography. Words are not enough to describe Thailand in all its glory and chaos circa 1970, and Harting’s wonderful vision closes the circle.

Horgan’s love for Thailand is unbounded, even if his paper’s newsboys came after him once with malice aforethought (and a knife). The kid from Boston became a newspaper man in a mystical and tumultuous land far away, and he is eternally grateful: “Just getting off the plane in Don Muang, the sense of the place had embraced me like a beautiful fog. I had read a little on what Thailand was supposed to be like but I was not the least ready for the warm loveliness, the sharp colors, the smells and sparkle in the air, the niceness of the people. Simply, it made me feel happy.”

1 Comment

  1. Barbara Rosenbaum

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