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The King Never Smiles
  • Jul 20, 2006
    512 p., 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

    ISBN: 9780300106824
  • Cloth: $45.00 
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History
Political Science


The King Never Smiles

A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej

  • Paul M. Handley
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Reviews

“[Handley’s] biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej succeeds in engrossing the reader with the complex personality of the Thai king and his long and eventful life. … The chapters on political turbulence in Thailand between 1974-76, and on the impact of the 1997 financial crisis, find Mr Handley at his analytic best. … Mr Handley also has some important remarks on the uses and abuses of the lese majesté laws in Thailand.” - Grant Evans, Far Eastern Economic Review

“Little wonder that before Paul Handley no one had really pried into the king’s sleeping habits, let alone the state of his marriage or political views. The story he uncovers is fascinating.” - The Economist

Thailand’s reigning monarch has just celebrated his sixty-year jubilee and this is the first serious biography of him. … It is key to understanding the extraordinary events of the past year. … For too long, the issue of the monarchy has been the prone elephant that analysts of Thai history and politics have had to treat carefully around. That era should now pass. … In sum, this is the classic story of an exceptional man recrafting a monarchy against the grain of an era. But with a difference.” - Chris Baker, Asia Sentinel

“[Handley’s] biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej succeeds in engrossing the reader with the complex personality of the Thai king and his long and eventful life. … The chapters on political turbulence in Thailand between 1974-76, and on the impact of the 1997 financial crisis, find Mr Handley at his analytic best. … Mr Handley also has some important remarks on the uses and abuses of the lese majesté laws in Thailand.” - Grant Evans, Far Eastern Economic Review

"A significant contribution to the sparse literature on Bhumibol. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

“A new and comprehensive history of the Thai modern monarchy…[which] presents a direct counterpoint to years of methodical royal image-making.”---Jane Perlez, The Sunday Telegraph

"A critique of the world’s longest reigning monarch and his machinations for domination at the cost of scruples. It unveils the throne’s self-protecting alliances with army bosses, drug dealers, bankers, monopolists, and the C.I.A., and evaluates the long-term damage done to Thai politics by the king’s obsession for controlling state and society."—Sreeram Chaulia, Worldpress.org

“Handley, an American journalist who reported from Bangkok for many years, has written one of the most important books on Thailand to appear in English.”—Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books

"This work is essential to understanding Thailand's modern political history and, particularly, the latest coup. Just as important, and perhaps more ominous, the book raises questions about how Thailand will adjust to its first real change in government in more than 60 years without the leadership of the 79-year-old king."—Major Dewayne Creamer, Proceedings/U.S. Naval Institute

"The first serious biography of perhaps the most important figure in modern Thai history."—James Ockey, Pacific Affairs

"Written by a journalist who resided in the Kingdom for thirteen years, it is exceptionally well written and reflects a deep knowledge of Thai politics and history. . . . The King Never Smiles is a daring, landmark work, clearly based on extensive research, which deserves much praise. It joins a small but growing body of proactive literature relating to kingship and politics in Thailand today and is certainly the most critical of anything previously published. As such it should compel future writers on Thailand to pay heed to the contemporary role of monarchy in Thai culture, society and politics."—P.W. Chambers, Contemporary Southeast Asia

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