For those reluctant, for whatever reason, to read Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles here is an alternative perspective on the Thai king. Written by Police General Vasit Dejkunjorn (12 years service in the royal court police) this English language translation provides an up-close look at royal travels and travails. I am only half way through the book at this stage so cannot provide a full review, but New Mandala readers can access some commentary at the publisher’s web site. My favourite passage so far:

I have heard civil servants such as district chiefs quite embarrassingly use common terms like phom (for I) and khrap in speaking with the king. I think that district chiefs should learn how to use the royal vocabulary properly. (p. 78)

Embarrassing indeed!