Readings

I’m trying to ease myself back into this whole blogging business, which I must admit is a bit hard with all the things that have gone on in Thailand during my hiatus. There are a great many things I want to write about, but at this point it seems my thoughts are in the process of swirling around in my head. At some point they will take solid form in a blog post.

I thought a good start would be to take Bookish to its roots (of sorts) and see what I have been reading. In the spare time that I have, I’ve basically been trolling the one-and-a-half shelf our university library devotes to Thai history and reading what I can. While I first checked out much referenced texts, like Chaianan and Morell’s Political Conflict in Thailand or Thak’s Thailand: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism, probably the book I enjoyed most was Duncan McCargo’s Chamlong Srimuang and the New Thai Politics.

Book cover

The ‘new politics’ of the title is now a bit old, but I found this political biography of the Young Turk soldier turned politician, turned democracy activist very engaging. For my generation which grew up with the image of Chamlong as a hunger-striking protester or as an ascetic who bathes with one kun of water a day, it’s easy to forget that Chamlong was deeply involved in behind the scenes politics (supposedly the 6 October events and subsequent coups) early in his military career. I thought the retelling of the events between 6 October and the Prem government quite gripping and gave me new insights to that period of history.

The Chamlong that emerges from the book is very different from my initial impressions — still not someone that I admire, but a complex individual of sometimes conflicting motivations. And to think that he was the one who gave Thaksin Shinawatra his first taste of politics…

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