Ronald L. Krannich, Ph.D.
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A Secure Site

 

Bob Bergin

 

"Chasing antique smugglers and historical artifacts
in the jungles and cities of Asia"

 

Bob Bergin is a former U.S. Foreign Service officer who writes about the history of aviation and OSS operations in Southeast Asia and China. He is also the author of three adventure novels: Stone Gods, Wooden Elephants, When Tigers Fly, and Spies in the Garden.

When he's not writing, Bob does what the characters in his adventure novels do - he deals in the art and antiques of Southeast Asia at Banana Tree, his shop in Alexandria, Virginia. Like the characters in his books, he spent most of his adult life living in Asia or otherwise involved with the region.

As a career Foreign Service officer and Southeast Asia specialist, he served in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. He also served in South Africa and Kenya, and spent two years in Japan.

Thailand, where much of the action in both books takes place, was Bob's home for seven years. His interest in the art and architecture of Southeast Asia led to courses in Buddhism and Asian art and the exploration of many of Thailand's religious and historic sites.

Browsing regularly through Bangkok's antique shops put him in contact with some of Thailand's leading art and antiques dealers and collectors. This not only helped refine his tastes in art, but taught him much about the business of trading in Asian art.

Bob's wife, Monique, shares his interest in Asia. Before opening Banana Tree, she apprenticed with one of Bangkok's major antiques dealers. Bob and Monique travel to Asia several times a year to hunt the treasures they sell.

Their long relationships with craftsmen, artists, and dealers, and their trained eye, make Banana Tree a favorite of a loyal clientele and designers in the Washington, DC area. They have been featured in the Washington Post, Architectural Digest, and other publications.

Bob's work with Banana Tree has enabled him to follow the evolution of the art and antiques business in Thailand, while giving him a front-row view of the dramas and scams that happen when significant amounts of money are exchanged for cultural treasures. This insider's knowledge is reflected in Stone Gods, Wooden Elephants, his story of high adventure in the world of Asian antiquities.

When not hunting art treasures, Bob pursues other interests in Asia. He works closely with a Thai foundation that restores and flies aircraft that have had a role in Thailand's history, and has worked with groups involved with the recovery of World War II aircraft in China.

He maintains a special interest in the American Volunteer Group (AVG) "Flying Tigers," one of the most effective and colorful combat units in the history of aerial warfare - and the inspiration for his second novel, When Tigers Fly.

His interviews and articles about the exploits of the AVG and on many other aspects of aviation history in China and Southeast Asia have appeared in numerous publications in the U.S. and Asia.

In recent years, Bob's writing interests expanded to include OSS and Free Thai operations. His investigation of the fate of a Flying Tiger pilot shot down over Thailand put him into contact with members of the Free Thai, the anti-Japanese resistance movement in Thailand during World War II.

Researching the Free Thai led him to the operations of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), America's first intelligence service and forerunner of the CIA. He has written numerous articles about the operations of both organizations for the OSS Society Journal and other history publications.

His research on the Free Thai and the OSS - and the work he has done with the Flying Tigers - is reflected in his novel of historic fiction, Spies in the Garden.

Bob spends time in China to pursue interests in U.S. World War II aviation and in the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). He is the first American writer to be given interviews by senior PLAAF combat pilots, including a leading MiG-15 Korean War ace, and the PLAAF test pilot who told his harrowing tale of dropping China's first H-Bomb.

Another of Bob's China projects culminated in February 2014 with the opening of a photo exhibit at the Kunming City Museum titled Publisher-hero as Combat Photographer in China, featuring the World War II photography of legendary Grove Press publisher, Barney Rosset. The beginnings of this project were recorded in an Evergreen Review essay titled When Lives Converge.

Following are links to some of Bob's published articles on aviation history and OSS operations:

 

FLYING TIGERS

 

AVIATION IN THAILAND

 

CHINA

 

OSS & FREE THAI OPERATIONS

 

AND SOME MYSTERIES

 

Bob Bergin can be reached at bbergin99@gmail.com.

 

 
 
 

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