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Conversations with Thaksin (Giants of Asia series) From Exile to Deliverance: Thailand's Populist Tycoon Tells His Story [Hardcover]

Tom Plate
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

15 Dec 2011 Giants of Asia Series
Going home is an iconic theme of literature and music that touches everyone's heart. Bur rarely has that journey looked more like an impossible dream than for Thaksin Shinawatra, the much loved and much hated former prime minister of Thailand. Expelled from the former Siam by a military coup in 2006, the cell-phone billionaire retreated to a dacha in Dubai to bide his time and plot his triumphant return. While in exile in Dubai, Thaksin tells his tale of triumph and betrayal to American journalist Tom Plate as well as his personal thoughts about poverty reduction, power politics, the future of democracy in Asia and why he prefers to lose at golf. In this volume, Plate masterfully dissects the mogul who ran his country like a CEO until the tanks came to show who was boss.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Marshall Cavendish International Asia (15 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9814328685
  • ISBN-13: 978-9814328685
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 14.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Conversations with Thaksin by Tom Plate Marshall Cavendish Former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, loved and loathed across his homeland, makes for a fascinating target of Los Angeles Times columnist Tom Plate's professional - and always gracious, although sometimes fawning - curiosity. Unsurprisingly, Conversations With Thaksin: From Exile to Deliverance - Thailand's Populist Tycoon Tells His Story is unavailable in the kingdom, though not yet subject to an official ban. Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006, terminating his populist-style leadership of five years. Before his political career, he was an entrepreneur. He made his first billion in telecommunications, before he founded the Thai Rak Thai ("Thais Love Thais") party in 1998. After his election victory in 2001, he became Thailand's first prime minister to serve a full term, and swiftly introduced popular and far-reaching policies. But the perception of him as a shrewd, corrupt businessman lingered, and then grew - fuelled by a few high-profile scandals - during his second term. Duly, the tanks rolled back in to central Bangkok to show Thaksin who really was boss in a country that had endured more than 20 military coups in its modern history. Plate's overview of the man is based on extensive interviews that took place between them at the former leader's residence-in-exile in Dubai. It's an accessible read on a complicated individual, and Plate ensures that enough background information is provided for those with little exposure to Thailand's enigmatic ways of governance. Plate - a long-time regional political commentator - is adept at eliciting candid answers from the famously weaselly Thaksin. There is also considerable focus on Thaksin's past. By and large, it's a story of outrageous overachievement, and it gives clues as to how Thaksin overreached as a doomed leader.For a self-made billionaire and ruthless politician, Thaksin sounds mightily virtuous when speaking to Plate. "I'm not worried about myself. I'm worried about my country and the people," he says with all the humility of a Buddhist monk. However, Thaksin's assertions and denials here are easy to decode.Plate surmises that: Thaksin was far from perfect; he made some big mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes. But he did some things, and he expanded the parameters of democracy. The author doesn't stick his neck out far with this. In a quirky, almost Shakespearian, twist to the Thaksin story, today his photogenic younger sister is the incumbent Thai prime minister. Plate managed to speak to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra about her exiled sibling, shortly before she took office after winning the 2011 general elections. My brother? He's a genius. He has so much creativity, but sometimes he thinks and moves too fast. Sometimes he acts and talks heavily. Now he knows that. Over the last five years more and more Thais recall good things he did when he was prime minister. So Thailand has been missing him. They want him to come back, they feel he belongs to the Thai people. Sounds like the beginnings of another Southeast Asian political dynasty. And if Thaksin is the founding patriarch, then he might, after all, just qualify - in the fullness of time - for the Giant of Asia tag that Plate and publisher Marshall Cavendish have gifted him --Nick Walker, South China Morning Post

Professor-cum-journalist Tom Plate's latest book is both captivating and controversial. Conversations with Thaksin: From Exile To Deliverance: Thailand's Populist Tycoon Tells His Story is part of the author's Giants of Asia series, in which he had published books based on interviews with Singapore's Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia's Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. This volume on Thailand's former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006, has already created a stir in Thailand. Some bookstores refuse to sell the book because of its controversial contents. But then the subject himself is controversial. Based on extensive interviews between Thaksin and Mr Plate at the former premier's residence in Dubai, the book is easy to read and written in a breezy style, with background on Thai politics, especially since that fateful coup of 2006, skillfully woven into the narrative. One central theme is the complex relationship between Thaksin and the palace. Although the author does not elaborate on many details perhaps for fear of being charged under Thailand's very strict lese majeste laws readers will be able to piece together the links between Thaksin, the coup and the role of the palace. Mr Plate portrays Thaksin as being misunderstood by the royalists. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is considered the ultimate moral authority in Thai politics. Mr Plate uses his journalistic skill to get Thaksin to give his honest views on the much-revered monarchy and its defenders in high places... Mr Plate's book thus deals with a pertinent question in Thai politics: a non-elective institution attempting to undermine an elective one. This raises the issue of whether the old argument made by the royalists that the monarchy is above politics might be questionable. This aspect of the monarchy has not been seriously discussed before because of legal restrictions. This book, in many ways, helps to push the boundary further in discussing the place of the monarchy in the Thai crisis... The other focal point in this book concentrates of Thaksins past. Mr Plate takes readers back to his childhood, family business, entry to politics and downfall... Thaksin is clearly trying to create a new persona in these interviews, If you take what he says at face value, he always thought about the poor and wanted nothing more than to improve people's lives. I am not worried about myself. I am worried about my country and the people , he stressed on page 95. The former premier also turns benevolent, forgiving his enemies and yearning for a real reconciliation. This sounds touching and Mr Plate seems to feel at times that Thaksin is genuine. But this is definitely a different Thaksin from the one that Thai's know. This book may help to whitewash Thaksin's wrongdoing of the past years. He used the interviews to dismiss allegations against him. He rejected corruption charges as politically motivated. He claimed he was bullied even before his premiership in 2001, when his enemies accused him of concealing wealth. He denied the allegation that he abused his authority to secure a plot of land in a prime location for his then wife. He reiterated that he never funded the red-shirt movement, saying no to Mr Plate four times... But it would be wrong to suggest that Thaksin used Mr Plate, a seasoned journalist and interviewer. Having given the former premier his unvarnished say, Mr Plate sums up appropriately on page 168: Thaksin was far from perfect; he made some big mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes. But he did some things, and he expanded the parameter of democracy. Whether you love him or hate him, this is an interesting book that shows a different side of Thaksin and would be of interest to keen observers of Thailand --Pavin Chachavalpongpun, The Straits Times, Singapore

This new book on Thaksin is the most successful of Plate's series so far…. fascinating books.... Plate's 'Gee shucks, did they really say that about you?' style has a huge upside. His subjects open up to him in a way they may not have intended to, and the insights the reader gains into their characters are considerable; to the point that Plate's books, for all their faults, will be incomparable tools for historians, biographers and anyone who ever wants to figure out what made these men, who do deserve to be called "Giants of Asia", tick --Sholto Byrnes, THE NATIONAL, Abu Dhabi

About the Author

Tom Plate is an experienced writer, journalist and syndicated columnist. He is director of the Pacific Perspectives Media Center in Beverley Hills, a non-profit organisation that syndicates high-end op-eds and also Distinguished Scholar of Asian and Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In fact I don't like this corrupted person, Thaksin. But I want to know how he thinks and what he hides behind the conversations? So I bought this book. I really like the way Tom Plate writes this book and also his questions to the interviewees. Of course, I plan to buy other books in this series.

About the book itself, it is good quality.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.1 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all Thais (not the Thai version) 2 Feb 2014
By songdej praditsmanont - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am like Don Tarrantino and was mesmerized with the writing style. Among 30 ebooks I bought, this is the only one I completed reading in 2012 in two nights. It was so real when Tom Plate put words by words of Khun Thaksin's own bad English down on paper. The writer was sincere and fair in presentation. Many times, I nearly felt off my chair on Thaksin's remarks that Tom might not have understood but put them down anyway for the benefits of Thai readers. This book is a must for all Thais to read and probe into the mind of that man who still matters to Thailand. We now can determine whether his days are numbered.

The interviews were made after the landslide victory of his sister. Hence, that caused Thaksin to be so careless with his euphoric attitude that he may now have to pay for those words. I would not have dared to translate those words in Thai.
35 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Book Details are WRONG! 27 Jan 2014
By Mean Machine - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Thanskin was NEVER expelled from Thailand. He was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to two years in jail.
The coward ran away and lives in SELF IMPOSED EXILE!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I thought 3 Mar 2014
By Sivawong Bunnalai - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
- Get to know Thaksin
- Hard to find reading material in Thailand

- Loads of excuses from Thaksin
- Biased
- Many stories are not true
- Could be used as Thaksin's propaganda
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Non-versations with Thaksin" - suggested title 18 Feb 2014
By Robert A Skrdla - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The author is a gifted writer and weaves a fine tale. However, he used a technique of basically putting words in Thaksin's mouth and then letting him wax eloquent. The result is a very guided, comfortable, safe interview for Mr. Thaksin. Mr. Plate's research was only partially complete in several key areas, which paints a faulty picture of what Thaksin has actually done. For those of us living in Thailand, we can see the chasm between Thaksin's admittedly grand vision for Thailand, and his ruthless, overtly corrupt administration. Throughout the book, it appeared to me that Thaksin was either massively delusional, or simply lying on a large scale. Unfortunately, Mr. Plate ultimately failed to ask any hard questions of this extraordinarily authoritarian ex Prime Minister, arguing that to do so would have stopped the conversation. Perhaps. But by not asking these questions Mr. Plate has produced a work with little substantive value.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One-sided story! 18 Feb 2014
By Orawan McAuley - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The content is a one-sided story. The author is unfairly take Thaksin side so obvious that it makes his book worth no more than just a piece of garbage. It's ridiculous that Plate believes that all of this fight against the Thaksin regime stems from jealousy of Thaksin's wealth and his superficial popularity.
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