Manote Tripathi, writing in The Nation, calls King Bhumibol Adulyadej: A Life’s Work, “the most authoritative treatise to date about His Majesty and Thailand’s 750-year-old monarchy”. According to Manote, “thanks to the material’s unmatched sources, this book is an eye-opener even for veteran Thai journalists”.
New Mandala readers who have digested the two most significant reviews of the book, one by Andrew MacGregor Marshall and the other by Paul Handley, and who have skated through the lengthy follow-up discussions here on New Mandala, will appreciate that not everyone agrees with this verdict.
I have no doubt that in the months to come there will be further reflections on this big book and its big ambitions. Here at New Mandala we will continue to pay attention to its reception. We are, of course, very happy to publish any responses to any of the critiques that have emerged.
Some New Mandala readers will want to know that the book has also garnered some attention in the Thai language media. For instance, Naew Na describes it as “worth holding on to as a reference work that covers a significant amount of knowledge”. Krungthep Turikit offers a short review which suggests “this book may be different from the royal history that Thais are familar with because it prioritises ‘truth’. It was not written to excessively praise [the king]”. Last year Thai Rath also published an account of the book, with plenty of pictures too.
And I am sure that more reviews will be forthcoming once Somsak Jeeamteerasakul and other important Thai voices on these topics have copies in hand.