Top positive review
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An alternative history of 20th century Thailand
on 18 May 2014
Having spent several years living and working in Thailand, reading this book felt like a guilty secret. As every Thai (and everyone else who has been there) knows, there is just one opinion on the Monarchy. Therefore this book offers some refreshing balance. This isn't all about King Bhumibol either; and is a great summary of Thailand's modern history and its constant struggle find political stability and democracy. It also tells the story of how a dynasty on its knees managed to not only survive, but go from strength to strength, with the leadership, determination and guile of just one man.
This book though is certainly not free from bias. However, set in a frustrating backdrop of religion-endorsed superiority, media censorship, omnipresent overt propaganda and draconian lese-majeste law, it is somewhat understandable. The bulk of the most critical parts are obviously based on rumour alone. Still, In a country where it is illegal to defame, insult or threaten the Monarchy, its not surprising that the author struggled to find many accurate references for his arguments.
Overall this book is a fascinating read for anyone with in an interest in Thai history and culture. I do though feel it is heavily padded, with lots of irritating repetition. My greatest criticism though is the unnecessary use of academic and high brow language, making it almost impossible to read for any non-native speaker.