Books by Thomas A. Bass

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

"Bass writes himself into the story too much, but the intriguing character of An provides the center of a fascinating account."
Swiftly paced narrative of a Vietnamese James Bond who worked both sides of the game. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Nov. 2, 1999

A business tale that takes a different path from start-up to success. Chaos theory has been a hot topic in science for decades but until now has had little to do with business. Here chaos theory, a "branch of knowledge good at finding order within disorder," is exploited to develop an ambitious stock-trading tool. This intellectual quest is undertaken by a pair of physicists—Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard—in Santa Fe who had gained acclaim in academia for their endeavors, though their practical experience had been limited to a hobbyist-type effort. To beat the odds at roulette tables, they programmed a hidden computer to analyze patterns in the movement of roulette balls, an experience with positive results and the basis for Bass's previous book The Eudaemonic Pie (1985). Moving from gambling to the stock market, they are tempted by the potential of stock trading, because, as one of the founders states, "even a small advantage can allow you to make a huge amount of money." First, though, they have to wrestle with the usual hardships of business start-ups, including raising money and attracting a staff of expert programmers. Along the way, this story is illustrated with brief background explanations about chaos theory, as well as the workings of the stock market. Readers will not gain any practical information about how the resulting product works; this isn—t a how-to manual for harnessing the market. Yet it is educational in another way, as an inside look at an unusual collusion between science and commerce. In the end, the fledgling enterprise is backed by a large corporation, rewarding the founders amply for their efforts, even before their programming output has proven itself. One criticism: Most of the action takes place in Santa Fe, and local color such as architecture and culture frequently intrudes on the main theme. A fascinating story that suggests a wider future for one branch of physics and bigger rewards for businesses that support theoretical concepts. Read full book review >
VIETNAMERICA by Thomas A. Bass
HISTORY
Released: April 30, 1996

A sympathetic, anecdotal look at the sad stories of a dozen or so Amerasian children of the Vietnam war, by a writer who feels the need to include himself in his narrative. The tens of thousands of children born to American servicemen and Vietnamese women during the war in Vietnam are a tragic legacy of that conflict. The children—known in Vietnam as bui doi, ``the dust of life''—face vicious political and social discrimination in the land of their birth. The situation is not much better for many of the 20,000 Amerasians who have emigrated to this country in the last decade and have found it extremely difficult to meld into American society. Only a tiny fraction of them have bee reunited with their fathers. ``Rejected by their Vietnamese motherland, they feel equally unwelcome in the land of their fathers,'' Bass (Camping with the Prince, 1990) notes. He made two trips to Vietnam, in 1991 and 1992, and spent some time at Amerasian refugee center in Utica, N.Y., to tell the stories of about a dozen Amerasians, most of whom emigrated to this country. In writing these compelling stories, Bass relies on information from his subjects—information, he admits, that is often unreliable: ``Many of the stories in this book may be untrue.'' Even more disconcerting are Bass's breezily written background sections, which are sketchy at best, largely undocumented, and marred by several errors (one example: 2.8 million Americans served in Vietnam, not 9 million, as Bass writes). Worse, the author injects himself into his story, with travelogue details about his adventures in Vietnam and accounts of his interactions with Amerasians and advocates for the refugees. In one grievous example, Bass describes his one-man campaign to help some Amerasians in Vietnam, noting this his hastily arranged actions backfired and may have gotten at least one young woman ``in trouble'' with the Vietnamese authorities. The Amerasian story deserves to be told in a better- researched, less personalized manner. Read full book review >