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Moments of Silence Paperback – March 31, 2020

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Editorial Reviews


After reading Moments of Silence, no one should ever again refuse scholars the right to fuse emotion with analysis in reflecting on tragic events they have witnessed. At once a riveting memoir, a careful scholarly assessment, a yearning for conversations never consummated, and an act of sustained political courage tempered with compassionate fairness, the book exposes the violence that the continuing silence about the events of 1976 has inflicted on the Thai body politic. That silence, the norms that sustain it, and the labile public memory those norms have shaped serve the unsmiling authoritarianism that still haunts the “land of smiles” to this day. -- Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

Thongchai Winichakul has done it again. Siam Mapped remains one of the most impressive books on Thailand’s past ever written, and his new one is just as good. Moments of Silence is also bracingly personal, for its author as a young activist was directly affected by the violence that convulsed Bangkok in 1976. An innovative blend of memoir and theoretically informed ruminations on memory, Moments of Silence has much to offer not just those concerned with Southeast Asia but also anyone interested in the myriad other settings, from Beijing and Burma to Cairo and Kent State, that have been sites of massacres, large or small, with complex and contested legacies.

It is very difficult for anyone belonging to the 1970s generations of Southeast Asian student activists to read and finish Moments of Silence.There is so much pain in this memoir of Thongchai Winichakul. Yet, somehow, he has been able to take a step back and analyze the 1976 massacre of his fellow students at the Thammasat University. With this book, Thailand’s ruling elites will not be able to hide the full story of that tragedy anymore.

About the Author

Thongchai Winichakul is emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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