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  • LIFESTYLE

    The best prime minister Thailand never elected

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 16/11/2018

    » Anand Panyarachun's two spells as unelected prime minister in 1991-2 had such a profound effect that they now seem preordained by history. This splendid book shows how the reality was otherwise.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Turning cheeks and pages

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 06/09/2018

    » Egyptian mummies who come to life as sexy nymphets. Thai princes driving fast cars. A Thai superwoman who casually murders several husbands. Starlets touting breast-enhancement techniques. For a book about "nationalism and identity in modern Thai literature", this volume has a few surprises.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Benjarong in detail

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 05/01/2018

    » Benjarong is the brightly coloured porcelain made in China for the Thai market which enjoyed a peak of popularity in the 19th century. Dawn Rooney sets out to provide "a single reference source for Bencharong ... the book I wish had been available when I first became interested in this little-known form of ceramic art 20 years ago".

  • LIFESTYLE

    How Bangkok came to be

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 03/11/2017

    » In 1963, Edward Van Roy arrived in Thailand to work on a survey of hilltribes. This was a golden era of anthropology with an emphasis on ethnicity and villages. Since his retirement from the UN in 1997, Van Roy has been tramping round the localities of old Bangkok, peering into the temples and shrines, rooting out the memories of the remaining old residents, and ransacking libraries for memoirs and histories.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Integration or disintegration

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 11/08/2017

    » One of the lesser-known activities of the European Union in this region is the funding of academic research designed to "help the EU and its member states make coherent and culturally relevant foreign policies" towards the region.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Respected Southeast Asian history scholar, Michael Vickery, dies

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 07/07/2017

    » With the death of Michael Vickery in Battambang, Cambodia last Thursday, Southeast Asian history lost a giant.

  • LIFESTYLE

    The perfection of humour

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 02/06/2017

    » The story of Vessantara, or Wetsandon, is perhaps the most famous and best-known tale in Thailand. Although originating among the jataka tales of India, most think it a local creation (Thais call it chadok). There is a Pali version in the early Buddhist texts, and official Thai-language adaptations since the 15th century. But the story also lives in popular memory, in pictures on wat walls, and in performances at annual festivals, and in these forms there is great scope for creative adaptation.

  • LIFESTYLE

    The romance of the Siamese war elephant

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 03/03/2017

    » 'Some so superb surpass a city's worth."

  • LIFESTYLE

    Understanding China's banks

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 26/01/2017

    » Every couple of years now, a book appears predicting the imminent crisis, breakdown, collapse or disintegration of China. The professor Cassandra touting a recent example passed through Bangkok last week. Among such works there is a subset that focuses on finance, especially banking. These books and articles argue that China's banks are inefficient because of government control; that they are racking up debt, much of which is hidden; and that, unless they are quickly privatised, they will be the spark for the aforesaid crisis, breakdown, collapse, or disintegration. In the last month, I have twice been treated to this argument first-hand, once from an American and once from a Japanese.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Saving the Fort Mahakan community

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 11/04/2016

    » Last week, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) posted an order to evict the residents of the Fort Mahakan community within a matter of days. Immediately, journalists, activists, academics, and town planners rose in protest, condemning the BMA as philistine wreckers of a small but important part of Bangkok's battered heritage.

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