New Books in Southeast Asian Studies: Supalak Ganjanakhundee on “A Soldier King”

What is the relationship between the military and the monarchy in Thailand? How has that relationship changed since King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) assumed the throne in 2016? Why have recent military coups in Thailand been staged partly in order to defend the throne? And how far can earlier interpretations of Thai politics be adapted to explain the growing influence of the monarchy in recent years?

Supalak Ganjanakhundee discusses his new fascinating book A Soldier King: Monarchy and Military in the Thailand of Rama X (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, 2022) with Duncan McCargo, director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen. Supalak is a former editor of The Nation newspaper, and a visiting fellow at the Pridi Banomyong Institute, Thammasat University, Thailand.

“The book is a significant contribution to understanding the important yet shifting patterns of relationship between the monarchy and military in Thailand. It is widely known that the monarchy-military union has played crucial roles in politics throughout modern Thai history. This book: A Soldier King: Monarchy and Military in the Thailand of Rama X offers a comprehensive account and sound analysis about the newly formed monarchy-military network, demonstrating clearly how the new king tightens his grip since late 2016 as well as his different style from his late father King Bhumibol.”

— Charnvit Kasetsiri, Thammasat University, Bangkok

Enjoyed this episode? You might also enjoy our podcast with Puangthong Pawakapan, on her book Infiltrating Society: The Thai Military’s Internal Security Affairs

Duncan McCargo is an eclectic, internationalist political scientist, and literature buff: his day job is directing the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, at the University of Copenhagen.

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