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Saying the Unsayable: Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand (review)

Saying the Unsayable: Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand (review) Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 33, No. 1 (2011), pp. 140­42 DOI: 10.1355/cs33-1f © 2011 ISEAS ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic BOOK REVIEWS Saying the Unsayable: Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand. Edited by Soren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager. Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2010. Softcover: 271pp. It says something about the state of the academic study of the Thai monarchy that up until Paul Handley's The King Never Smiles (2006) there had never been a critical English language biography of the present King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej. The monarchy was generally regarded as "widely revered" and a stabilizing force for the country's endemically turbulent politics. International media reports about Thailand often use a famous image from the democracy protests of May 1992, when Bhumibol appeared on television with the then Prime Minister, General Suchinda Kraprayoon, and protest leader, Major General Chamlong Srimuang, kneeling at his feet, receiving fatherly advice on how the bloody conflict should be resolved. This comforting image of a benevolent constitutional monarch, above the fray of politics, offering wise counsel in times of crisis to his child-like subjects, has exerted considerable influence on scholarship about the Thai monarchy. A misplaced eagerness on the part of some 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

Saying the Unsayable: Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand (review)

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Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
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Copyright © Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
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1793-284X
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Abstract

Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 33, No. 1 (2011), pp. 140­42 DOI: 10.1355/cs33-1f © 2011 ISEAS ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic BOOK REVIEWS Saying the Unsayable: Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand. Edited by Soren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager. Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2010. Softcover: 271pp. It says something about the state of the academic study of the Thai monarchy that up until Paul Handley's The King Never Smiles (2006) there had never been a critical English language biography of the present King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej. The monarchy was generally regarded as "widely revered" and a stabilizing force for the country's endemically turbulent politics. International media reports about Thailand often use a famous image from the democracy protests of May 1992, when Bhumibol appeared on television with the then Prime Minister, General Suchinda Kraprayoon, and protest leader, Major General Chamlong Srimuang, kneeling at his feet, receiving fatherly advice on how the bloody conflict should be resolved. This comforting image of a benevolent constitutional monarch, above the fray of politics, offering wise counsel in times of crisis to his child-like subjects, has exerted considerable influence on scholarship about the Thai monarchy. A misplaced eagerness on the part of some

Journal

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

Published: Jun 4, 2011

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