Whyte, Brendan, The Railway Atlas of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia (White Lotus, Bangkok, 2010).

My book presents detailed maps of three Southeast Asian countries, depicting every known railway, tramway and mass-transit line, public or private, past and present, including cablecars, monorails and miniature railways. The bilingual maps locate and name every station in both the national script and Romanised forms. An extensive text describes the railway history of each country, and for each line gives a detailed commentary on its conception and construction, notable features such as bridges, tunnels and spurs, as well as a chronology, station listing, and reference list.

Appendices explain the Rattanakosin and Buddhist-era dating systems, placename changes, and local units of measurement, provide bilingual historical lists of railway authority officials, and give a glossary of Thai railway terminology. The atlas will prove invaluable for railway enthusiasts and researchers seeking information on the rail systems of three countries whose unique alphabets make accessing information difficult for foreigners.

The book includes: the Khone Island railway in Laos; the two Japanese-built ‘Death Railways’ to Burma; British teak-logging tramways of north Thailand; Australian tin-mining tramways of the south, a 40km cablecar linking Vietnam to Laos; Fashion Island’s deadly monorail fire; King Rama VI’s 15-km coolie-powered tramway to his seaside palace.

Transcriptions of historical newspaper or travelers’ accounts, and extracts from contemporary maps, bring the stories of many forgotten lines to life.