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Behind the Smile: Voices of Thailand
Behind the Smile: Voices of Thailand
by Sanitsuda Ekachai
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real Thailand, 12 Jun. 2009
Behind the tourist cliche of the Land of Smiles, this reveals the reality of poverty and injustice in rural Thailand. The essays are clearly and simply written and all the more poignant for being so. Although somewhat dated, the essential reality of the growing disparity of wealth as Thailand 'develops' under pressure from Western and 'globalised' consumerism remains true today, if not more so. Thailand's recent politial unrest may be attributed in part to this grotesque inequality, made worse by endemic corruption in state agencies. Thailand is in real danger of becoming a failed state and this is a very readable way to read why and how.


Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide to Ending the Pursuit of Happiness
Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide to Ending the Pursuit of Happiness
by Barry Magid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.78

10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book requires a health warning...., 12 Jun. 2009
In many ways this book contains much commonsense advice, but it is nonetheless deeply flawed. For a start, it is badly written, the sentence construction awkward and contorted - something one might have thought editors at the otherwise excellent Wisdom Publications would have sorted out before publication. Second, it does not travel beyond America. It is written with Americans in mind, and fairly naive Ameriucans at that. Third, it creates the false impression that 'American Zen' is some kind of free-floating U.S. philosophy, divorced from the Buddha's teachings and from mainstream Buddhist principles, and that it requires no doctrinal grounding. In that sense, it is dangerously sectarian in its approach. A glance through the index is revealing: the sources - with one exception - are contemporary Westerners writing their own versions of a moral science taught 2,500 years ago. Obviously the author does not want to burden or confuse us with ancient discourses - and as a result, he comes across as patronising. We're obviously not smart enough to wrestle with these matters! What little attention is given to Buddhist concepts, the author gets badly wrong. He makes no distinction between conventional and transcendent reality; he refers to the idea of 'not-s/Self' as 'nonself' - the latter a misleading term. He confuses rebirth with reincarnation and in a few lines dismisses the former, raising serious doubts about his own Buddhist credentials as well as his credibility as a writer on Buddhist matters. In short, this is somneone schooled in the putative science of psychology trying, unsuccessfully in my view, to mould and reshape Buddhism, dragging it out of context for his own ends and to harness it to an agenda that has little to do with Buddhist practice or doctrine. For example, the Buddha never taught a path to personal happiness in any form - so the question of ending the the pursuit of happiness doesn't really arise unless one suffers from some major mosconceptions about Buddhism in the first place. The Buddha taught suffering and the cessation suffering - not the same thing at all! Caveat emptor.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2014 6:00 PM BST


Village Of Stone
Village Of Stone
by Xiaolu Guo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, simply told story of suffering and survival in China, 6 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Village Of Stone (Paperback)
This is a fast-moving, deeply affecting tale of childhood suffering and survival on the fringes of modern China - a fishing community on a remote island, in fact - interwoven with the love between the young adult survivor and her Western frisbee-obsessed lover living in a Beijing basement apartment. Told with elegant simplicity at a fast clip, the novel is never dull and has a strong narrative drive, into which is woven Chinese culture and history along with a good dose of self questioning.


The Eye of Jade
The Eye of Jade
by Diane Wei Liang
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining insight into modern China, 6 Jun. 2009
This review is from: The Eye of Jade (Paperback)
An entertaining, well-written crime novel, with interesting insights into modern China for the armchair traveller. The author doesn't make the mistake of lecturing the reader, but shows something of China and its political past and present, weaving the politics and culture into the narrative, using a light touch with deft characterisation. Contemporary Chinese writing is all too often ignored by Western readers - and that is a great loss. It's a weekend read, and makes no pretence at being great literature.


Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand
Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand
by Pasuk Phongpaichit
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The oligarch of Thailand, 17 Mar. 2009
A readable and well-researched investigation of one of the most enigmatic politicians of our age - a man brilliant but deeply flawed, a cynic, a risk-taker, a multi billionaire and self-invented 'man of the people' who treats a nation as a commercial company, who sees wellbeing exclusively in terms of GNP growth, who speaks repeatedly of 'the people' but appears to despise democracy, someone with a doctorate in jurisprudence but who seems to believe the Rule of Law is a commodity to be employed only when it suits him, someone who cites Buddhist teachings on morality yet employs them in support of the politics of greed and who has never shown the slightest inhibition in buying votes or packing both government and judiciary with his cronies. Vital reading for anyone seeking to understand something of modern Thailand, its strengths and weaknesses. Needless to say, a great friend of the Bush administration and the Pentagon.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2012 3:01 PM BST


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