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Thread: Good books about Thailand

  1. #1
    KO rockin in a free world Array domstar's Avatar
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    Books Good books about Thailand

    You guys that have been around LOS for a while and can throw an educated opinion, what are your favourite literature pieces about Thailand. I am not talking about guides here, but instructive books that provide some insight. History books, essays on culture/tradition/aspects of Thai life, inspired travelogues by good journalists/writers, novels taking place in the Land of Smiles which provide a realistic view of the country... Eastern and Western authored.

    Amazon suggestis (only essays here, though):

    Thailand: A Short History by David K. Wyatt
    Thailand: Buddhist Kingdom as Modern Nation-State by Charles F. Keyes
    Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation by Thongchakul Winichakul
    National Identity and Its Defenders: Thailand Today by Craig J. Reynolds
    Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand by Kamala Tiyavanich
    Buddhadasa: Theravada Buddhism and Modernist Reform in Thailand by Peter A. Jackson
    Me and Mine: Selected Essays of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa (Suny Series in Buddhist Studies) by Phra Thepwisutthimethi
    The balancing act: A history of modern Thailand by Joseph J Wright
    A History of Thailand by Chris Baker
    Patterns and illusions: Thai history and thought

    So, what's your pick?
    The rose of all the world is not for me, I want for my part
    only the little White Rose of Scotland, which smells sharp and sweet,
    and breaks the heart.
    -Hugh McDiarmid-

    "And the three men I admired most, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, they took the las train for the coast, the day the music died. And they were singing.."

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    A lousy and daring fellow Array Bubba's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Good thread idea.

    Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker have written a number of good books on recent Thai poltical and economic events that are reasonably accessible to a layman. I've just read 'Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand', which tries to place Thaksin in context with the rest of the thai political scene. I've read another of theirs about the '97 crash.

    The University of Hawaii seems to have quite a good South East Asian department and they occassionally publish a decent book. I rea 'Chai Yo !' which was about Rama VI and Thai nationalism a while ago and found it very instructive.
    Nuts In A Blender

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    Senior Member Array goo_stewart's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Other than the obvious TKNS, that list looks good. As Bubba says, that Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker book 'Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand' is worth a read. Any book by this duo is a good read. The '97 crash stuff is good also.

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    Senior Member Array Lor Ling's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    I just wanna read the one about a fella who doesn't smile, but I'm jiggered If i can get a copy.

    'Kin dictatorship!
    When the great lord passes the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts

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    Striver Array Mr Pants's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Private Dancer

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    Cheeky Monkey Array Johnh's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Concur with Bubba re Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit. Anything by them is worth reading.

    Try Thai Identity in the Age of Globalisation in National Identity Thailand and its Defenders: Thailand Today Craig J.Reynolds (ed.). The book provides a series of papers on far ranging aspects of Thailand from language to the concept of the Thai village.

    Neils Mulder, an anthropologist, has written some interesting stuff about the linkage between the Thai education system, especially reagrding social studies, and so called, Thai identity. Inside Thai Society by Niels Mulder Religion - Everyday Life - Change and Thai Images: The Culture of the Public world
    They are a little heavy going at times, but the key ideas are well expressed. If you are involved with teaching at schools here, the books should give you great insight into the mindset of the professional educators at the Min of Ed. and how they select and channel so called academic material into the system, and that their core ideas and teaching methodologies are still extant.

    Finally, Pen & Sail: Literature and History in Early Bangkok by Nidhi Eoseewong is, in my opinion, a great read, especially as an insight into the way history has been created and managed in Thailand. It also offers an intelligent overview of early Bangkok and the litrature of Sunthon Phu.

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    Regular User Array emjay's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Best one I've read recently is THAILAND: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism by Thak Chaloemtiarana.

    Nary a mention of quilting.

    I am not gay. Kitsch and quiche aren't even pronounced the same in Japlish.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Array crew's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    The King Never Smiles by Paul Handley
    http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/b...sbn=0300106823
    The King Never Smiles - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Asia Sentinel - The King Never Smiles: Book Excerpt

    Quote Originally Posted by Lor Ling View Post
    I just wanna read the one about a fella who doesn't smile, but I'm jiggered If i can get a copy.
    If you have any mates going down to Singapore, or KL imagine, ask them to smuggle a copy in for you.
    ______________________

    Heart Talk --it's not exactly "literary" but the summaries of Thais' expressions for emotions is insightful.

    Restless Souls by Phil Thornton
    Restless Souls by Phil Thornton

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    Still got the Blues Array
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Damn that crew is a dangerous fella. If you're not in Thailand it shouldn't be hard to find. My copy has the photo jacked removed and it's buried in the back yard.

    Stephen Leather has three I think. I've only read one. Private dancer was on the Internet, for free at one time, might still be there. I like his writing. He puts a lot of white lies in there it seems, so do I, that's why I like him.

    Damage Done is also good but doesn't give a nice rounded vision of Thailand. It's about a guy in a (a few) Thai prisons.

    Consider this, Doom: A lot of folks have a lot of criteria they use for the judgment and/or analysis of a people. For me it is, the way they drive; treat their women; treat animals, treat visitors; treatment of inmates; GNP percentage of military budget; social services; their legal system and kinship. Thais fail in most of those areas. So do many Americans. If you're like me you'd have to read at least five books, each with a different slant to get the big picture. If you're single and have an affinity for fuzzy kitties and/or the norms of the social peripheral try Stephen Leather. History: Elvis Never Grins.

  10. #10
    "No logo on the foam" Array Ling Noi's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Quote Originally Posted by jonny danger View Post
    Damage Done is also good but doesn't give a nice rounded vision of Thailand. It's about a guy in a (a few) Thai prisons.
    Personally, I got seriously bored reading about how these 'innocent' people were in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was until I read "Forget you had a daughter."

    Sandra Gregory doesn't try to insult your intelligence and admits her guilt and stupidity of trying to smuggle heroin from Thailand to Japan.

    Next is the hooker books such as Private Dancer, Porn goes boom boom etc which all have the similar Farang falls in love with bargirl from Isaan and gets fucked over. Tediously boring garbage written by fairly untalented authors. They also try to slip in the odd cultural lesson, although a fictional book about the 'scene' in Thailand is hardly the place to study foreign cultures.

    What can I say? I'm hard to please.

    LN

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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    But you hansum man.

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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Interesting perspectives from travelers in Thailand

    Amazon.com: Travelers' Tales Thailand: True Stories: James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger: Books

    Little Angels - Phra Peter Pannapadipo

    If you want to learn about Buddhism, especially novice monks who are children and what they go through. All proceedings go to Charity. A very touching and interesting read.

    Little Angels by Phra Peter Pannapadipo


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    Senior Member Array Lor Ling's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Quote Originally Posted by crew View Post
    If you have any mates going down to Singapore, or KL imagine, ask them to smuggle a copy in for you.
    If anyone's bag was searched upon entering Thailand, and they were found to have a copy, d'ya think they'd get in any shit?

    Or just have the book confiscated?

    Damn this place makes me paranoid.

    Cue some flip bastard saying anyone caught with a copy'll be shot on the spot!

    NB by 'flip' I mean flippant. Not Filippino!

  14. #14
    KO rockin in a free world Array domstar's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Thank you all, people!

    First order is placed , Little Angels, Barker's History and the Travelers tales will arrive within next month.
    Restless Souls is out of stock everywhere (averywhere with a reasonable shipping fee to Spain) damn! I was looking forwrd to that one, looks like a very interesting read.

    I agree with you, Johnny, it will have to be a few points of view to get a proper picture. I have to get acqainted with basic history, though, and then I will try next step, probably with Reynolds, then present day affairs about Thaksin, the Crash and the coup. The King Never Smiles is an evoking title and seems to have supporters, so I will surely give it a go once I have placed the character in context.

    Has the yet unspoken rest of the crew other suggestions?

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    Senior Member Array goo_stewart's Avatar
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    Re: Good books about Thailand

    Quote Originally Posted by Ling Noi View Post
    Sandra Gregory doesn't try to insult your intelligence and admits her guilt and stupidity of trying to smuggle heroin from Thailand to Japan.
    I disagree, throughout her book she whinged and whined about the man 'who set her up' and how he got away relatively freely, she does admit the charge but she did bang on about how unfair her sentence was. She said that it was unfair because it was this other man's heroin.

    I must admit that she wasn't as annoying as that Irish fella in Welcome to Hell, he had holes in his story that you could drive a bus through. He seemed to think that a stay in a Thai jail was unfair because he was white. He also conveniently missed out large amounts of his story - presumably parts that showed his guilt.
    Last edited by goo_stewart; 1st August 2008 at 09:33.

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