Bangkok After Dark is a weekly newsletter about the research and writing of a book about musical encounters Thailand during the U.S. war in Vietnam. This period was full of rich engagements between people — soldiers; Thai, American, European, and Filipino musicians; sex workers; expatriates; spies; diplomats; developers; and many others. The book grows out of three years of research into this period and these people’s experiences, and draws on sources in multiple languages.

The book’s main character is a regrettably forgotten jazz pianist named Maurice Rocco, who was a star in New York City nightclubs as well as Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s. His career tanked in the 1950s, before he moved abroad at the end of the decade, eventually landing in Thailand, where he was murdered in 1976. The book follows his life through disparate places. In Bangkok Rocco was emblematic of the ways that Thais and westerners encountered one another in scenes of music and nightlife. Bangkok After Dark tells Rocco’s story, as well as many others.