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Thailand: A Short History Paperback – September 10, 1986
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Top Customer Reviews
There are shortcomings to the book, though, that seriously detracted from it. My biggest complaint is the fact that there aren't enough maps. For example, there is a map that illustrates the area in the mid 1500s, but there isn't another one until the mid 1700s. Boundaries have changed, new cities are referred to, but the reader has no idea exactly what things look like. In addition, there are areas and cities referred to in the text that I couldn't find on any of the maps. My other complaint is the fact that the author uses some notations and terms that are never explained to the reader. I found some of these things confusing and they were never really cleared up to my satisfaction.
If you are looking for a general overview of the history of this area of the world with a focus on Thailand, then this is a very decent book with which to start. If you're looking for something that goes into a lot of detail, this book may let you down.
The book starts with a prehistory of what is today Thailand, covering the aboriginal Tai peoples who lived in what is today Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and even southern China. Wyatt goes over how Tai people were treated in early Southeastern Asian states - Nan Zhao, Vietnam, China, Laos, Angkorean Cambodia, and also the Mekong Yonok area, as well as the Burmese kingdoms. He then states how the early Tai created states, such as Syam (Siam) and Sukotai, which formed a civilization based on Therevada Buddhism.
Wyatt then covers the Ayutthaya civilization, which formed the first dynasty, with a clearly defined capital at Ayutthaya. We then find how Siam had to deal with the Burmese invaders from Burma and the Mongols, which climaxed in 1767, when Burma finally conquered Siam.
We then hear how Thailand avoided colonization by one by one putting off the European powers, first the UK, then France, then Holland, etc. Finally, the modern period is covered, with the move of the capital to Bangkok in 1782 and the beginning of the Chakri dynasty.
We hear the cultural achievements and Siamese empire of the Bangkok period, and how, Siam enters World War I and the modern world, and finally avoiding Japanese occupation during World War II, and how Siam becomes Thailand, following the removal of the Absolute monarchy.
A very complete book, but very detailed and hard to understand.
Those complaining about the book seem to want a "guidebook" or a quick read that they could get better from Wikipedia.
All phases of Thai History are covered in sufficient detail to give the reader a real understanding and feel for the place... Of course Thailand is a small country so some discussion of neighbors is necessary. Any "words" that are not known to the reader can be looked up. This is really not a problem... You might need a map to know where places are if you are at ground zero about the lay of the land...but that is doable.
A great and readable introduction to Thai History for those who want a little more than the Lonely Planet version of "historical background."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this on my journey moving to Thailand. Fascinating history of a culture that should be discovered and studied by more foreigners before venturing into their idea of an adult... Read morePublished on April 11, 2014 by Louis Henry
I, too, wish that the author had devoted more time to the 20th. century. 200-year-old palace intrigues just don;t have the same zing as the more contemporary-and equally... Read morePublished on September 11, 2012 by Godfree Roberts
I am slowly reading ths densely packed information full history of Thailand. It gives all sorts of clues asto how the Thai people have become the nation they are. Read morePublished on July 8, 2011 by Janice Leinani Lind
Undoubtedly, the author knew Thailand and its history extremely well! This unfortunately is only necessary but not sufficient to write a readable book. Read morePublished on June 21, 2008 by PST
Wyatt's first edition of this book was, for many years, the standard introduction to Thai history for English speakers. Read morePublished on May 4, 2008 by Richard A. Jenkins
For years, I have kept a cherished copy of this book, probably because someone I know and admire wrote a glowing review of it in the Asian press. Read morePublished on December 26, 2006 by Geoff Puterbaugh
It is, of course, impossible to cover every aspect of a nation's history to everyone's satisfaction in a single volume, or in any series of volumes for that matter. Read morePublished on March 23, 2006 by Y. Sageev
I bought this book a few months before a planned trip to Thailand hoping to learn more about their origins. I did not get anything from this book. Read morePublished on December 20, 2005 by Brain Drain
This book by Wyatt gives a good introduction to Thai history for everyone who wants to know more than just what is found in Lonley Planet. Read morePublished on July 20, 2005 by Yvind Hadland