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» As a story, this account of Americans in Siam begins rather slowly. Missionaries who make very few converts. Traders who do very little trade. Diplomats with very little tact. In 1870s, the American consul sums up his countrymen in Siam as "mutinous sailors, rascally captains, quarrelling and libidinous missionaries". The only American who leaves a real mark on Siam's history in this era is the missionary-printer-newspaperman-medic, Dan Beach Bradley. By 1900, there are around 125 Americans in Siam.
» Somdet To is, according to Justin McDaniel "arguably the most famous monk in Thai history." His image, picture, chants, biographies, amulets, and pamphlets are everywhere. Yet you could read everything written on Thai Buddhism in English for scholars or tourists without noticing his existence, let alone his importance. In this superb book, McDaniel not only does justice to Somdet To but suggests a new way of thinking about "Thai Buddhism" and how it is studied.
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