The Balancing Act: A History of Modern Thailand - Joseph J. Wright, Jr.Bangkok: Asia Books, 1991, Paperback.
Condition: Near Fine.
Contains: Black & white photographs; Maps ;
From the cover: “In the pre-dawn hours of 24 June 1932 a band of disgruntled Thai bureaucrats, with a small clique of army colonels supporting them, staged an unlikely coup against the government of the last absolute monarch of Thailand.
Using bluff and deception, they called together a number of armoured units and infantrymen at the centre of Bangkok and declared a new government, a new regime to function in the name of the king but under the authority of a modern, democratic constitution: Rattamanoon in Thai. The soldiers cheered, but some were later heard to ask whether the new leader was a son of the king, and if he were not, what kind of ruler would this Mr. Rattamanoon be?
Thus was parliamentary government introduced to Thailand amid the conflicting ambitions of rising new leaders and the misapprehension of the very people to whom the king eventually bequeathed his sovereign powers and governmental authority.
Joseph Wright’s The Balancing Act chronicles the rise of Thailand’s constitutional government and the parallel decline and resurgence of the Thai monarchy over the past sixty years. The Balancing Act traces the story of modern Thailand through the long series of coups and coup attempts that followed the 1932 “revolution” up to and including the most recent coup on 23 February 1991, from the failed attempts at reform by King Rama VII in the 1920s to the monarchy’s revival and restoration under the present King Rama IX.
Drawing from a variety resources, including scholarly studies, contemporary journalism and the memoirs of historical figures, The Balancing Act is an excellent survey of the development of modern Thai political culture. While in places the book reads like a novel, its index, appendixes and detailed footnotes enhance its value as a research and reference tool for academics.
I am forced to walk a tightrope the late Premier Khuang Aphaiwong said when he began his third non-consecutive term as prime minister of Thailand. Since the 1930’s Thai leaders have had to walk a fine line between the requirements of tradition and innovation, and from the beginning Thai prime ministers have likened their roles to those of the circus acrobat or juggler. The Balancing Act examines the changing style of leadership in Thailand during this century and the delicate equilibrium for which Thai elites strove as they endeavoured to adapt Western political institutions to suit traditional Thai concepts of leadership and governance.”