The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej ペーパーバック – 2017/1/31
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Paul Handley provides an extensively researched, factual account of the king’s youth and personal development, ascent to the throne, skillful political maneuverings, and attempt to shape Thailand as a Buddhist kingdom. Handley takes full note of Bhumibol’s achievements in art, in sports, and in jazz, and he credits the king’s lifelong dedication to rural development and the livelihoods of his poorest subjects. But, looking beyond the widely accepted image of the king as egalitarian and virtuous, Handley portrays an anti democratic monarch who, together with allies in big business and the corrupt Thai military, protected a centuries old, barely modified feudal dynasty.
When at nineteen Bhumibol assumed the throne, the Thai monarchy had been stripped of power and prestige. Over the ensuing decades, Bhumibol became the paramount political actor in the kingdom, silencing critics while winning the hearts and minds of his people. The book details this process and depicts Thailand’s unique constitutional monarch—his life, his thinking, and his ruling philosophy.
"A significant contribution to the sparse literature on Bhumibol. . . . Highly recommended."―Choice
"A critique of the world’s longest reigning monarch and his machinations for domination at the cost of scruples. It unveils the throne’s self-protecting alliances with army bosses, drug dealers, bankers, monopolists, and the C.I.A., and evaluates the long-term damage done to Thai politics by the king’s obsession for controlling state and society."―Sreeram Chaulia, Worldpress.org
Please do not be put off by the first chapter which reads like a philosophy tract on Buddhism. It is absolutely necessary to understand this foundational aspect of the author's excellent explanation of the whys and whos of the King's decisions and strategy.
Highly recommend this for anyone interested in Thailand's modern history and the crossroads this special country faces today.
Translator of For That One Day: The Memoirs of Mitsuo Fuchida, the Commander of the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Author, 101 Lesser Known Facts Related to the Attack on Pearl Harbor
This book is banned in Thailand, I didn't bring it back with me do to fears of possible being arrested.
The king is viewed as a god here and you better not say anything bad about the royal family.
Yet he was born in the USA, my girlfriend didn't know that.
I would really like to see an update, given the turmoil in Thailand since it was published in 2006, to cover former Prime Minister Shinawatra's dismissal (and subsequent further controversy) plus coups and red shirt/yellow shirt protests, as well as further speculation of what will become of the monarchy and Thai politics after the king passes away.
-Bradley K. Martin, author of Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty