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Thailand | Bibliography - Page 1

Page Contents

Details and mini-reviews of some of the books I have read about Thailand.

  • Popular History of Thailand [more]
  • Prem Tinsulanonda - Soldier & Statesman [more]
  • Free Thai [more]
  • Thaksin - The Business of Politics in Thailand [more]
  • Inside Thai Society [more]
  • Thai Images [more]
  • Essays on Thailand [more]
  • Wondering Into Thai Culture [more]
  • The Thai Monarchy [more]
  • The Story of Mahajanaka [more]
  • Bangkok Inside Out [more]
  • Dhamma Moments [more]
  • Money Politics, Globalisation, and Crisis [more]
  • The British Acquisition of Siamese Malaya [more]
  • King Mongkut & the British [more]
  • History of Anglo-Thai Relations [more]
  • Thailand Into the 2000's [more]
  • Studies in Thai History [more]
  • Culture Shock! Thailand [more]
  • Meet the Akhas [more]
  • Unmasking Anand Panyarachun [more]
  • Pridi by Pridi [more]
  • Powers That Be: Pridi Banomyong [more]
  • Katya & The Prince of Siam [more]
  • Loyalty Demands Dissent [more]
  • King Bhumibol and His Enlightened Approach to Teaching [more]
  • Thai Folktales & Law [more]
  • A History of Thailand [more]
  • Back from the Brink [more]
  • The King of the White Elephant [more]
  • 101 Thai Forms [more]
 

 

Thailand-related books

Thailand-related books

 

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Thailand - Bibliography Page 1

Introduction

Public tribute to Prem Tinsulanonda located near to his place of birth in Songkhla - Click for larger image The Internet, wonderful as it is as a piece of technology, is completely unregulated and full of rubbish. A once-a-year visitor to Phuket who wishes to impart his 'wisdom' of Thailand to the world would be thrown out by any publishing house but he is perfectly free to set up his own web site.

Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing but the price we all pay is having to wade through endless rubbish to find anything worth reading. Vanity publishing exists in the world of books, of course, but to a much lesser extent. As a general rule of thumb, if you really want to learn about Thailand, turn off your computer and go to your nearest library or book shop.

I have referenced some individual books in the appropriate sections but here is a summary of some of the books I have read related to Thailand. I have not listed any of the many freely-distributed books I have read about Buddhism because they are not specifically related to Thailand.

I am interested in everything to do with Thailand and Thai people. I am not generally interested in farangs living in Thailand, and especially not interested in farangs misbehaving in Thailand. Accounts of time spent in Bangkok prisons by farang drug smugglers and 'fascinating' accounts of Isaan prostitutes by farangs who can see no further than their local beer bars bore the pants off me, as do the kind of farangs that genre of book is aimed at.

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Books I Have Read

These are some of the books I have read about Thailand along with a brief description.

Popular History of Thailand
M.L. Manich Jumsai (ISBN 974-7390-24-8)
Written by a Thai author who didn't like the European versions of Thai history he had read. It's not exactly impartial but the book contains lots of fascinating facts.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

Not available

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Prem Tinsulanonda - Soldier & Statesman
William Warren (ISBN 974-89580-8-6)
A former Prime Minister and now President of the King's Privy Council. For a long time, one of the most influential men in Thailand and he still is today even though he is almost 90.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Free Thai
Wimon Wiriyawit (ISBN 9748496902)
The Allied-backed 'Free Thai' movement which was involved with the liberation of Thailand from Japanese occupation during WW2.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Thaksin - The Business of Politics in Thailand
Pasuk Phongpaichit & Chris Baker (ISBN 974-9575-55-5)
The truth is not pleasant. Everyone has an opinion of Thaksin, but I don't believe that everyone fully understands how he operates. I've heard it says many times that despite his dishonesty and selfishness, he is a very good businessman. This book explains how he became a successful businessman before ne went into politics,

Pasuk Phongpaichit & Chris Baker are proving to be a a formidable writing partnership and anything written by either, or both, of these authors is worthwhile reading.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Inside Thai Society - Religion, Everyday Life, Change
Niels Mulder (ISBN 974-7551-24-1)
A definitive work and essential reading for those with a genuine interest in Thailand. If you want to try to understand the Thais and only wish to buy one book, then this is the one. It is written in a scholarly fashion and doesn't always make for easy reading but it is deadly accurate.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Thai Images - The Culture of the Public World
Niels Mulder (ISBN 974-7100-44-4)
How do Thais see the world around them? Why do so many Thais have the same views, as if these views were planted rather than having been learnt from experience?

As an outsider in Thailand it is very easy to observe what goes on, but not always to understand why. For example, we all know that Thais observe a strict hierarchy in society and defer to 'big people', but why are they so deferential?

In this book Mulder analyses different sources to answer these questions and many more. Thai schoolchildren spend a lot of time on a subject called sungkom, which they translate as 'social' in English. Social, of course, is an adjective and what they really mean is society or social studies.

A lot of their thinking is as a result of the indoctrination that takes place at school and Mulder dissects the social studies curriculum to find out what exactly they are taught.

He also looks at the image of Thai society offered in fiction, newspapers and from the National Identity Office.

It's a fascinating book if you really have an interest in Thailand and a desire to understand how Thais think.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Essays on Thailand
Thanapol Chadchaidee (ISBN 974-834-824-5)
Interesting short articles about Thai life and culture written by a Thai author.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

Not available

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Wondering Into Thai Culture
Mont Redmond (ISBN 974-86270-4-7)
One of the most frustrating books I have ever read. The author's views me of the time when I first arrived in Thailand and thought that everything about Thailand was wonderful. Later on, I realised why things are the way they are in Western countries.

As the title suggests the author likes to play with words, but I find his writing style intensely irritating. This is one book on Thailand that I wouldn't recommend.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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The Thai Monarchy
Public Relations Department, Office of the Prime Minister (No ISBN)
Information about the monarchy from a Thai perspective.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

Not available

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The Story of Mahajanaka (Cartoon Edition)
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (ISBN 974-272-074-6)
From the Bangkok Post: "Mahajanaka, the latest literary work by His Majesty the King, is hailed as the crystalisation of his visions for the country. Adapted from the story of one of the Lord Buddha's previous lives, it focuses on the virtues of perseverance and moderation as guidelines for sustainable development through the rich use of dhamma riddles."
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Bangkok Inside Out
Daniel Ziv & Guy Sharett (ISBN 979-97964-6-6)
An offbeat look at Bangkok which might be interesting for those who have never visited Thailand but which doesn't offer much new for those familiar with the country already. I won my copy after submitting a photo to The Nation, which was subsequently published, and I believe that this book is now banned in Thailand. The book contains some images of Thailand that Thais would rather foreigners didn't see.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Dhamma Moments
Danai Chanchaochai (ISBN 974-91347-4-5)
An insightful book explaining why there are so many problems in the world today, why so many people are unhappy, and how an understanding of Buddhism can help solve these problems.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

Not available

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Money Politics, Globalisation, and Crisis - The Case of Thailand
John Laird (ISBN 981-218-076-1)
Presumably, the author didn't set out to explain Thai culture but the problems behind the financial crisis of 1997 explain Thai culture very well - essential reading.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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The British Acquisition of Siamese Malaya (1896-1909)
Tom Marks (ISBN 974-8496-98-8)
To understand the present you need to understand the past. Nothing about the politics and culture of the Malay Peninsular is easy to understand and this book demonstrates that very clearly. Don't just write off the current problems in southern Thailand simply as the work of separatists or Muslim extremists. The problems go back hundreds of years. A complex book but only because of the complexity of the subject.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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King Mongkut & the British
M.L. Manich Jumsai (ISBN 974-85913-4-4)
An interesting account of a very interesting and intelligent man.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

Not available

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History of Anglo-Thai Relations
M.L. Manich Jumsai (ISBN 974-7390-19-1)
Some aspects of Thai government administration and some of the country's infrastructure were improved by the British in the 19th and early 20th centuries but not everything from the colonial era, such as gunboat diplomacy, was very honorable.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

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Thailand into the 2000's
National Identity Board - Office of the Prime Minister (No ISBN)
This government publication contains a plethora of interesting facts about Thailand but completely ignores anything that is even slightly negative. It tells us that tourists go to the 'sun-and-fun centre of Pattaya' to find, "an endless variety of water sports plus horseback riding, go-kart racing, tennis, golf, etc." I guess that 'etc.' has been deemed sufficient to cover the huge prostitution industry which is Pattaya's main draw.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

Not available

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Studies in Thai History
David K. Wyatt (ISBN 974-7100-28-2)
The author was a professor of history at Cornell University (he died in 2006) and although his knowledge of the intricacies of Thai history is undoubted, I found much of the subject matter too esoteric and the writing style too scholarly and academic.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Culture Shock! Thailand
Robert & Nanthapa Cooper (ISBN 981-204-157-5)
An insightful book, especially considering that the first edition was published in 1982 when foreigners had very little knowledge of Thailand and Thai culture. Well researched, accurate and recommended.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Meet the Akhas
Jim Goodman (ISBN 974-8496-56-2)
Hill tribes are not one of my major interests in Thailand and I probably wouldn't have picked up this book had I not just returned from Chiang Rai. However, the author obviously knows the subject inside-out and has a lively and interesting writing style which makes the book an interesting read. It also explained a couple of unusual sights that I saw inside the hill tribe village regarding hill tribe symbolism.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Unmasking Anand Panyarachun
Cholatis Ajamanapap (ISBN 974-87879-6-6)
I didn't think it was possible for anyone to have stronger feelings about a politician than I did about Thaksin before Thaksin was finally booted into exile. However, that was before I read this book. The author states that he, "undertook to write this book with an innocent heart and without malice or bias toward Mr Anand and his cronies." That statement takes a little believing. There is so much venom in the book that it starts to become quite amusing after a couple of chapters. Anand was a political force before I had any interest or knowledge of Thai politics so his name means nothing to me but if he was one-tenth as nasty as the author of this book asserts, he would actually make Thaksin look like quite a decent human being.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

Not available

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Pridi by Pridi
Translated by Chris Baker & Pasuk Phongpaichit (ISBN 974-7551-35-7)
Pridi was one of those rare human beings with not only a brilliant mind but also the ability to change society. He played a key role in the fall of absolute monarchy (1932) in a country with the most revered and powerful monarchy in the world. Many privileged Thais resented what he did and he was demonised. He was charged with regicide and communism. I hadn't even heard of Pridi a short time ago but his story is a fascinating one and an important one in Thai history. Thailand is still struggling today with the democracy that Pridi tried to put in place. He wasn't an anti-monarchist. "After Thailand's post-war experience of military dictatorship, he became more aware than ever of the important role the monarchy could play in blocking the aspirations of dictators." That sentence on page 175 is SO relevant to 2006 it could have been written yesterday. I wonder what Pridi would have thought about Thaksin, had he lived long enough?
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Powers That Be: Pridi Banomyong
Sulak Sivaraksa (ISBN 974-7449-18-8)
Published in 2000 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Pridi's birth by the outspoken Sulak Sivaraksa (a man once accused of lèse majesté by MR Kukrit Pramoj). The regicide accusations against Pridi turned a lot of people against him, including Sulak, and it wasn't until late in Pridi's life that Sulak realised he had been wrong. It's interesting to read books written by Thais about subjects that are normally considered taboo in Thailand. My own knowledge of Thai politics was non-existent five years ago. I started to follow contemporary politics after I arrived in Thailand and now that I am starting to learn more about the history of Thai politics, it becomes even more fascinating.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Katya & The Prince of Siam
Eileen Hunter with Narisa Chakrabongse (ISBN 974-89007-3-8)
Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, son of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and Queen Saovabha and brother of Kings Vajiravudh (Rama VI) and Prajadhipok (Rama VII), married a Russian commoner, Ekaterina Ivanovna Desnitsky, known as Katya. Written by the couple's granddaughter (and her aunt), I was a expecting a sloppy, sentimental love story but there is actually some very good background about royal life in Thailand during the time of absolute monarchy. There is some sloppy stuff - as might be expected from two women authors - but there are enough fascinating facts about Siamese court life to make the book a worthwhile read.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Loyalty Demands Dissent
Sulak Sivaraksa (ISBN 974-260-144-5)
The book is subtitled 'Autobiography of an Engaged Buddhist'. Described as a Buddhist social activist, Sulak is one of the most outspoken and controversial figures in Thailand. A highly intelligent man, Sulak - among other things - studied law in London, worked for the BBC and taught at SOAS. With a Western education and perspectives, he was astutely aware of many of the injustices of life in Thailand after he returned. He was never afraid to speak out though, even about taboo subjects in Thailand. As a result, he has been sent into exile, imprisoned and famously accused of lèse majesté. He is still a very active man and was one of Thaksin's fiercest critics before the evil dictator was banished from the Kingdom and sent into exile.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

Not available

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King Bhumibol and His Enlightened Approach to Teaching
Government Public Relations Department (No ISBN)
The King is very much a believer that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach him how to catch fish, he can feed himself for life. This book deals with his Sufficiency Economy theory (which makes perfect sense) and also explains the Dhamma principles he advocates and practices. If everyone understood and lived their lives by Dhamma principles, this world would be a much more pleasant place in which to live.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

Not available

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Thai Folktales & Law
Alexander Shytov (ISBN 974-020-110-6)
This book promised a lot but the author is an intellectual, a devout Christian and a lawyer. Oh dear, what an unfortunate combination. I was looking forward to some analyses and interpretations of traditional Thai folktales and some thoughts about how they relate to contemporary cultural traits in Thailand but all too often the author goes straight into the legal aspects or worse, starts banging on about his Christian convictions. In many ways, it is similar to the Mont Redmond book. The author is no dummy and there is some good stuff in the book but it appears to have been written for the purpose of personal vanity and is not easy - or particularly enjoyable - to read.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

Not available

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A History of Thailand
Rong Syamananda (No ISBN)
Written by a Thai professor of history at Chulalongkorn who not only has a remarkable knowledge of the subject but writes in perfect English as well. The writing style is very readable and the book is packed with interesting facts. Unfortunately it was published a long time ago (1977) and in limited numbers (2,000). The best place to try to locate a copy would be a Thai university library, Chula being your best bet I would imagine.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

Not available

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Back from the Brink - Thailand's response to the 1997 Economic Crisis
Ijaz Nabi & Jayasankar Shivakumar (No ISBN)
A World Bank publication following the Asian Economic Crisis which began in Thailand and spread to several other countries. The authors look at what caused the crisis, the response and what can be done in future to restore robust growth. It's a bit of a 'dry' book and I preferred John Laird's analysis.
Amazon US

Not available

Amazon UK

Not available

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The King of the White Elephant
Pridi Banomyong (ISBN 974-7449-22-6)
Written by the architect of Thailand's 1932 change from an absolute to constitutional monarchy, the White Elephant is of course the national symbol of Thailand. Set in an age of small, warring Kingdoms - and actually written during WWII - it is a story about peace and the dangers of war. The book was made into a film with the same title - The King of the White Elephant. To be perfectly honest, I didn't find it a great read or learn an awful lot from the book.
Amazon US

Amazon UK

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101 Thai Forms
Wijit Apichartkriengkrai (ISBN 978-974-7428-97-1)
This is simply a nostalgic trip down memory lane by a Thai who talks about things from his childhood. The English equivalent would be reminiscing about a time in the past when young boys played football in the park using jumpers for goalposts.

The author does have a point. Lots of traditional Thai culture has been lost since the materialist invasion of Thailand by Western countries, especially America. However, there is now no turning back the clock.

Try telling some Thai kids to turn off their computers and stop playing Facebook so that they can talk to each other with two empty cans joined together with a piece of string and see what their reaction is.

I'm of an age at which I can relate to a lot the author says. Since I was born in 1960 the world has experienced far more technical change than has ever been experienced in the whole of history. I believe that the world is changing too quickly and I think that society is losing a lot of good things, but what can you do? You can't stop it or turn back the clock.

One thing you can do is to write a sentimental book, such as this. I picked this book up thinking that I would learn something about Thai culture, but in reality I didn't learn very much.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Not available

Visit Thailand

Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.

One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. I always use Agoda to book hotels in Thailand. The company was established in Thailand and has great local knowledge, as well as a huge inventory of hotels.

If you click on one of the destinations opposite you will get a list of hotel deals from Agoda. It's generally a good idea to book on-line because you will get a good room rate and you won't suffer the disappointment of arriving at a hotel to find that it is full.

I book hotels regularly in Thailand and I have always found Agoda to be the best on-line travel agent. At times I have spent a lot of time researching hotel prices and although other deals sometimes look better at first I always end up returning to Agoda.

If you don't wish to pay for your hotel at the time of booking, Booking.com normally allows you to pay when you check in at the hotel. Some people prefer this method, but I have always found Booking.com to be more expensive than Agoda.

If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined. However, you will normally find that Agoda is the cheapest and therefore you can save yourself time and money by just booking through Agoda in the first place.

Images of Thailand

Images of Thailand

 

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