The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej

Paul M. Handley

The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej

The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej

  • Title: The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej
  • Author: Paul M. Handley
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 218
  • Format: Kindle Edition

Thailand s Bhumibol Adulyadej, the only king ever born in the United States, came to the throne of his country in 1946 and is now the world s longest serving monarch The King Never Smiles, the first independent biography of Thailand s monarch, tells the unexpected story of Bhumibol s life and sixty year rule how a Western raised boy came to be seen by his people as a liviThailand s Bhumibol Adulyadej, the only king ever born in the United States, came to the throne of his country in 1946 and is now the world s longest serving monarch The King Never Smiles, the first independent biography of Thailand s monarch, tells the unexpected story of Bhumibol s life and sixty year rule how a Western raised boy came to be seen by his people as a living Buddha, and how a king widely seen as beneficent and apolitical could in fact be so deeply political and autocratic.Paul Handley provides an extensively researched, factual account of the king s youth and personal development, ascent to the throne, skillful political maneuverings, and attempt to shape Thailand as a Buddhist kingdom Handley takes full note of Bhumibol s achievements in art, in sports and jazz, and he credits the king s lifelong dedication to rural development and the livelihoods of his poorest subjects But, looking beyond the widely accepted image of the king as egalitarian and virtuous, Handley portrays an anti democratic monarch who, together with allies in big business and the corrupt Thai military, has protected a centuries old, barely modified feudal dynasty.When at nineteen Bhumibol assumed the throne, the Thai monarchy had been stripped of power and prestige Over the ensuing decades, Bhumibol became the paramount political actor in the kingdom, silencing critics while winning the hearts and minds of his people The book details this process and depicts Thailand s unique constitutional monarch his life, his thinking, and his ruling philosophy.

Recent Comments "The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej"

In some ways this feels like 3 books:First we have a fairly complex and scholarly introduction to the semi-religious concepts of the Devaraja and the Dhammaraja. Not easy going but if you find it difficult read the next few chapters and then come back to it as you'll find it easier once you see the real life examples Second there is the description of the efforts of a few powerful and ambitious aristocrats in the Court to rebuild the power and prestige of the monarchy by making it more relevant [...]

Bhumibol is a very interesting kingined for such a long time in a changing country, was raised with Western standards and is living a strictly Buddhistic life, seen as holy by his people. He has done and still does a lot of good things but as everyone involved in politics there are some situations that he seemed to handle in a doubtful way.The book was written in a fluent style, still it gets boring from time to time. It is critical and interesting but in my opinion it was written a little too m [...]

Totally different perspective on the role of King Rama 9 (the world's current longest reigning monarch, of over 60 years) in modern Thai history than you get from any other literature. The book is illegal in Thailand, but a friend whose got a friend in the royal circles of Bangkok told me that all the royal family is now reading it

Paul Handley presents a fairly even analysis a bit skewed by confirmation bias, but generally fair. The title is misleading; it's not a biography of King Bhumibol so much as an analysis of the institution of the modern monarchy, which is inevitably bound up with Bhumibol, but separate. Handley's argument is at its strongest when he's drawing the devastating connections between Bhumibol and the 1976 Thammasat University massacre. Meanwhile, he's at his weakest when he's trying to articulate the r [...]


Hereditary rule in modern Southeast Asia, a case studyA few hereditary rulers in Southeast Asia still have the people's confidence. Late in 2010, shops closed in the Javanese town of Yogyakarta to protect the governing sultan from democratic elections. The reputation of the Malaysian sultans is mixed, but King Norodom Sihanouk is still highly respected despite various strange moves in his political career. Nothing however beats the prestige of Thailand’s King Bhumibol. Paul Handley, once a jou [...]

Great info if you live/work in SE Asia and need to understand culture, politics, history of Thailand. It's also an interesting read if you DON'T have those needs, but is way more detailed than most casual readers would enjoy. The King of the title died in 2016, after a multi-decade reign, and whether his son will have the respect his father was able to generate among the population and politicians is an open question, as is what will become of Thailand if he cannot gain it.

At first, the thing I want to get from this book is that how King Bhumibol being widely known. Paul clearly explains the relation between King Bhumibol and the army and how he can protect the "monarchy" by himself. I think that Paul's explanation about King Bhumibol's act is a bit ambiguous but it's okif you wanna get a basic knowledge about why he became famous to many other people, you should read this book.

Gives you a better understand of the Thai monarchy and their relation with Thai politics.Book has many references for you to check the information or get more detailed information.

This was a strange one-- I wanted to understand what was happening in Thailand a little better, and my friend Sean suggested this, saying he'd heard it was pretty good. And it is good, though I think it also has its limits, both for what I wanted and in other contexts.The book, taken broadly, is more or less a supplementary history of Thailand, partially since 1932, but mostly from 1947, a history that aims to integrate the role of the monarchy in terms of its influence on the political life of [...]

I'd heard about this book for years, and as someone who had lived in Thailand was very curious about it. While I'm sure that Handley won't be welcome back to the kingdom any time soon for telling the story of the King as he has, I think his book is quite impressive. His writing rendered clear a great many things that had baffled me while in country--in my experience, many people were willing to talk about things like scandals in the royal family, but did not dwell on them at all. I've got a much [...]

I found this very interesting - especially since there are not many books on Thailand's monarchy, much less any biographies. Because of the strict censorship Thailand imposes, it is hard to find unbiased views of the monarchy (besides the underground gossip). This biography has created a very different view of the monarchy that I grew up with and heard about but I do wish that it focused more on the king and not the politics of Thailand. I understand that Thai politics play a crucial role in the [...]

So controversial that it is banned in the Kingdom of Thailand, this thoroughly researched portrait of the modern Thai monarchy proves both eye-opening and very valuable. The revered King of Thailand undergoes closer scrutiny, under which he actually continues to look like a very kind, benevolent leader. But there are some interesting insights into the machinations of the royalist supporters over the past sixty-plus years. An important read for anyone who will be living in this county, but read i [...]

A very well researched look at the Thai monarchy, particularly the unprecedented reign of King Bhumibol (Rama IX). The book is banned in Thailand, certainly it a critical though I believe quite balanced. I would really like to see an update, given the turmoil in Thailand since it was published in 2006, to cover former Prime Minister Shinawatra's dismissal (and subsequent further controversy) plus coups and red shirt/yellow shirt protests, as well as further speculation of what will become of the [...]

Fascinating, comprehensive, and exhaustive look at the mythology surrounding the Thai monarch. So thorough, however, that reading can get tiresome sometimes. This book probably will not be of much interest to those without prior knowledge or interest in Thai politics or culture, as really nothing written can truly convey the status that the king has achieved amongst the Thai people. Without that context to enlighten the analysis, the book would be a chore.

Definitely not surprised this book is illegal in Thailand! Currently re-reading it as I'm not sure I correctly digested all the information a couple of months ago, the writing is tedious at times. It's refreshing to read something other than absolute and unconditional praise for Thailand's monarchy. However, because of Thailand's free information restrictions, I question everything - opposing views, as well - that I read, especially about the monarchy. Interesting stuff, though.

Highly critical of the current monarch and his family. This would be very unpleasant reading if you subscribe to the whole mythology/personality cult which has been built up over decades. While it does contain a few undocumented assertions and some speculation (e.g. the Ananda murder/suicide), the documentation is easily sufficient for plausibility.

One of my fav television image showed the King broking a truce between bitter political figures rivalling for power in the early 90s. Now I see the untold stories behind that image.Occasionally uncharitable in his assessment, and picking on nitty-gritty details, the book is nevertheless revealing about the other face of the King in contrast to the official version.

Interesting reading about a topic I knew next to nothing about. I understand current Thai politics and culture much better now than before I started. The book would definitely benefit from maps, charts of the royal family lines, pictures, a pronunciation key and other helps for newcomers. I was very confusing keeping track of all the names.

I'll admit, I didn't read the whole thing. It's long, it's deep, it has a lot of references to people I lost track of who they were. But this is a true story of royal intrigue. Fascinating. I still love the King!

Living in Thailand for 10+ years so of course I'm always keen to find out more about the country, even (well, especially) the bits that make people fearful and uncomfortable. But unable to legally buy or possess here due to censorship.

Dragged in the middle - also, I felt you could tell when the tone of the author became more sharp concerning the topic in the second half (perhaps more data sources?)Interesting perspective on how things work politically in Thailandd that all hands are at least somewhat dirty.

You really can understand why he never smiles! It gives you an idea of the intrigues of palace and Thail politics which is very complex. Also talks about the future but things change fast and the events of the last coup are not covered but it is more of the same

I'm really excited to read this biography of the King-it's banned in Thailand! I can't believe I live in a country that has banned books! Up yours, censorship.

Read like a history book. I wanted more of a summary. The history is very repetitious.

Banned/challenged in Thailand

Ironic insight into the Land of the Smiles

A little repetitive, but good.

Don't bring this book to Thailand, if you are reading it.d since I do travel to Thailand, perhaps it is best if I do not discuss this book.

I did not read it yetbecause i never saw it in Thailandso who had any copy of this book?

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    Published :2018-07-09T20:11:40+00:00