A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century by Andrew MacGregor Marshall (review)

A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century by Andrew... Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 37, No. 3 (2015), pp. 495–498 DOI: 10.1355/cs37-3k © 2015 ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. By Andrew MacGregor Marshall. London, New York: Zed Books, 2014. Softcover: 230pp. There is a long tradition in Western commentary on Asia pointing to the reprehensible behaviour of oriental despots. Advocates for colonial expansion often built their case around the need to liberate the Asian masses from their rapacious, and sometimes unhinged, rulers. Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s A Kingdom in Crisis sits firmly within this orientalist tradition. A Kingdom in Crisis provides a salacious chronicle of royal brutality and “murderous violence” in pre-modern Siam (p. 53). Princes who fell out of favour were put in velvet sacks and beaten to death with sandalwood clubs (p. 43); petty criminals were slowroasted alive (p. 53); the owners of dogs whose barking disturbed the king were “killed in the cruellest fashion on earth” (p. 52); and unsuspecting maidens were arbitrarily sacrificed to meet the king’s superstitious whim (p. 122). There were also “blood-curdling punishments” for those bold enough to engage in “immoral intercourse with a lady http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century by Andrew MacGregor Marshall (review)

A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century by Andrew MacGregor Marshall (review)


Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 37, No. 3 (2015), pp. 495–498 DOI: 10.1355/cs37-3k © 2015 ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. By Andrew MacGregor Marshall. London, New York: Zed Books, 2014. Softcover: 230pp. There is a long tradition in Western commentary on Asia pointing to the reprehensible behaviour of oriental despots. Advocates for colonial expansion often built their case around the need to liberate the Asian masses from their rapacious, and sometimes unhinged, rulers. Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s A Kingdom in Crisis sits firmly within this orientalist tradition. A Kingdom in Crisis provides a salacious chronicle of royal brutality and “murderous violence” in pre-modern Siam (p. 53). Princes who fell out of favour were put in velvet sacks and beaten to death with sandalwood clubs (p. 43); petty criminals were slowroasted alive (p. 53); the owners of dogs whose barking disturbed the king were “killed in the cruellest fashion on earth” (p. 52); and unsuspecting maidens were arbitrarily sacrificed to meet the king’s superstitious whim (p. 122). There were also “blood-curdling punishments” for those bold enough to engage in “immoral intercourse with a lady of the Palace” (p. 51). Palace intercourse — MacGregor Marshall shows us that there was an awful lot of it — was the prerogative of extraordinarily randy monarchs. Prasart Thong, who seized the throne in 1629, was a pervert, selecting the “prettiest maidens and daughters of the greatest men” (p. 124) as his concubines! And even the scholarly Mongkut, released from his monastic sublimation at the ripe old age of 46, begat 82 children by 35 women in his “harem” (p. 129). Do not be misled...
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Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
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Copyright © The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
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1793-284X
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Abstract

Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 37, No. 3 (2015), pp. 495–498 DOI: 10.1355/cs37-3k © 2015 ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. By Andrew MacGregor Marshall. London, New York: Zed Books, 2014. Softcover: 230pp. There is a long tradition in Western commentary on Asia pointing to the reprehensible behaviour of oriental despots. Advocates for colonial expansion often built their case around the need to liberate the Asian masses from their rapacious, and sometimes unhinged, rulers. Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s A Kingdom in Crisis sits firmly within this orientalist tradition. A Kingdom in Crisis provides a salacious chronicle of royal brutality and “murderous violence” in pre-modern Siam (p. 53). Princes who fell out of favour were put in velvet sacks and beaten to death with sandalwood clubs (p. 43); petty criminals were slowroasted alive (p. 53); the owners of dogs whose barking disturbed the king were “killed in the cruellest fashion on earth” (p. 52); and unsuspecting maidens were arbitrarily sacrificed to meet the king’s superstitious whim (p. 122). There were also “blood-curdling punishments” for those bold enough to engage in “immoral intercourse with a lady

Journal

Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic AffairsInstitute of Southeast Asian Studies

Published: Jan 31, 2015

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