Top critical review
200 people found this helpful
Isn't This the Customer Review of the Book Section?
on July 5, 2006
The first official printing of this book just came out this past week. Respectfully, has anyone of the previous reviewers read the book? If not, please do so and come back to give a fair review of it (if you really care about the subject enough) and stop sounding ridiculous.
This is a section for potential buyers who seek your thoughts about the book so that they may decide whether or not they should buy it, not about what you think about the King before reading it. There are online forums for you to post your personal comments without having to read this rather thick book. If you know how to use internet, you can find those online forums, too.
(What's funny is that some people found these reviews of the book helpful when the reviewers hadn't even read the book.)
The first reviewer (bottom one) might have read the review copy before it was officially printed since s/he posted his review in mid-February. S/he gave a pretty fair assessment of the book. One correction though, the King was never an Olympic medalist. He won a gold medal from the Southeast Asian Games (SEAGAMES).
I agree with him/her about the early reign portion of the book. The first 100+ pages was well researched with only a few controversies that actually sound hearsay added. They sound hearsay because the lack of concrete proves or sources. Most of these controversies are nothing you can't find on the internet websites with the right keywords on simple Google searches or wikipedia. It also helps if you know how to read Thai to read this book.
The reason the later parts of the book sound spiteful might be due to the fact that his former work (Far Eastern Economic Reviews, a magazine based in Hong Kong) was banned in Thailand because two of his former close colleagues wrote an article that was considered a threat to the Thai national security and were deported. If you want to know more about this issue just Google search with keywords like Far Eastern Economic Reviews + Thailand. Then try searching the author's name together with the people deported. It's all there for you to read and learn for free.
The Index section in the back of the book is better than good. It is very well organized. However, I have a little problem with the Sources section. Paul Handley inserted many of his own rather lengthy hearsay personal opinions in the same section of the book. It just makes it seem like there are so many credible sources that he cited from to write this book when most of them are old Thai newspapers that reported in English (wouldn't you think that if they are Thai newspapers, they would have been subjected to censorship during that time also? Then what is so secretive about stories from his sources?).
Furthermore, you will see lots of those "Ibid" in that section following the newspaper's names. Other sources are Thai memoirs, popular magazines like the Times, and funeral pamphlets of celebrities. I wonder how he was able to read accurately those memoirs and pamphlet that were written in old Thai language.
One other little things that made me think about the accuracy of what I was reading is the fact that he sometimes refer to the people he talks about in the book with only half of their first names or titles. Handley says in the beginning of the book about how Thai names and positions are long and hard to spell and even go out to say that he has tried his best, but I'm talking about the equivalence of referring to Barbara Bush as "Barb" and Hillary Clinton as "Hilla". It's just weird for reading this kind of book and that happens. If you don't know a little bit before hand about some of the people he's talking about, it can be very difficult to find out who it is that he's actually talking about.
I lived in Thailand 17 years and able to read and speak Thai fluently. I tried my best to be open-minded and logical when I was reading this book as I, too, wanted to learn as much as possible about the facts of this subject matter. My conclusion for you who's reading this line is, most of you will put it down before finishing the first 50 pages due to spelling of Thai names and religious terminology. If you can swallow that, you will enjoy reading the rest of the book.
However, I seriously question the claim that this book is well-researched independent work. The writing about controversies that Handley tries to add into his book to make this sounds like an independent research is nothing new to me. They can be found easily online with the right keywords. I have in my possession many Thai books that he refers to, and even with those, he didn't provide enough to conclude anything.
The King's family issues are also nothing new to me. I believe most Thai people know about them, too. It's not that the truth are always kept away from them. They just don't like talking about those issues out of respect for the King as they are his personal matters that don't really have any negative effects on them or the country.
In my opinion, this book will probably sell fast in the beginning due to the subject being the King and his successful 60 years reign. Then it will slow down quickly as more reviews come out to let people know that there are really few new interesting points in it.