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Thailand: A Short History Paperback – September 10, 1986

3.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A very readable account.... We come away from reading it with a clearer understanding of where Thailand stands in relation to its neighbors, who the Thai people are, how the Thai government evolved into its present form."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 10, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300035829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300035827
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,819,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Ware on December 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book gave me a seemingly thorough overview of the history of Thailand. From the early centuries AD up through 1982, we see how the various countries of southeast Asia interacted with one another in defining their boundaries today. The author gives a good look at how the royalty and wars of the area shaped the peninsula as it currently stands.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I brought this book, because, as said before, it is the only history of Thailand available. Unfortunately, the author's detail covers a detailed history, and ties in things that do not have to do with the history of Thailand.
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book in preparation for my first trip to Thailand. I was hoping for a readable overview of Thailand's history to enhance my stay. Unfortunately, I came away less than satisfied with Wyatt's book. It was long and tedious. His writing style is pedantic and dull. The author clearly knows his subject well, but his treatment of Thai history was long on details, presented chronologically, but short on interpretation. Surprisingly, there was little in the book about how Buddhism affected the course of historical events. After finishing the book as the plane touched down in Bangkok, I had assimilated a number of important facts about Thailand, but I didn't feel that the book gave me the chance to understand the sweep of Thai history. Yet, my research did not find any other book in English which covers the subject. Until one comes along, hopefully a better one, I guess this is it.
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Format: Paperback
This author really knows the History of Thailand and it shows... the book is highly readable and moves quickly and with confidence... No useless "filler".

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."
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Format: Paperback
The title says it all, "A short history." Overall not a bad read, though one walks away feeling somewhat less than satisfied. Particularly interesting is the history of palace intrigues during the 18th and 19th centuries. One wishes the author had devoted as much effort to the chapters concerning 20th century Thailand as he did to these era, particularly World War II era Thailand, and Thailand struggles with democracy (and the many coups) in the latter half of the century. Still, this is one of the better books of a limited number devoted to the fascinating history of the realm.
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