Book Recommendation for Thailand

I just finished reading Narrative of a Residence in Siam, a book written by a chap named Fred Arthur Neale in the 1850s. It was, in a word, excellent. The author voices many opinions about Thailand that I can relate to 150 years later, and was a skilled writer.
Actually, the full name of the book is Narrative of a Residence at the Capital of the Kingdom of Siam; With a Description of The Manners, Customs, and Laws of the Modern Siamese by Fred Arthur Neale, Formerly in the Service of his Siamese Majesty; Author of “Eight Years in Syria, Palestine, and Asia Minor.”
It was originally published in 1852 and the version I found at Nam’s university library is the second reprint, which was retypeset as well. For a paperback, this book is gorgeous:

One of the many passages that struck a chord (although these are not the author’s own words, he is quoting another):
The Siamese love gaming to such an excess as to ruin themselves and lose their liberty, or that of their children; for, in this country, whoever has not wherewith to satisfy his creditor, sells his children to discharge his debt; and if this is insufficient, he himself becomes a slave.
I can’t recommend this book to people interested in the history and culture of Thailand enough; if you want a taste, it seems that Cornell has a complete scan of the book online although their servers are a bit slow at the moment.

1 thought on “Book Recommendation for Thailand

  1. Most excellent link. I am looking forward to learning more about the Thai customs and people. Perhaps I’ll be better prepared next time.

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