History of Ayutthaya

In a new book review, Robert H. Taylor of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute writes for JCA about A History of Ayutthaya: Siam in the Early Modern Period, by Fukuoka Prize awardees Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit.

Published by Cambridge University Press, Taylor observes that this is not only an excellent account of early modern Siam, but that the authors, as “gifted historians and translators,” provide a book that “opens new perspectives on the history not only of central mainland Southeast Asia, but the larger Asian world. The volume opens readers’ eyes to the sweep of Asian history from the late thirteenth century to the final quarter of the eighteenth century.” He says that the period “comes alive in Baker and Pasuk’s volume as in no other.”

He concludes his review:

Making sense of the past, not only the past of kings, but of institutions, Asia-wide trading patterns, religious and linguistic change and social transformation, is rarely achieved in a single volume. This and more is to be found in this book. For those who see the history of Thailand as the history of peasants and Bangkok, this book will open their eyes to another Siam, richer and more complex than ever imagined. For those who want to understand the evolution of states and societies on mainland Southeast Asia over a longer period than the myopia induced by nationalism, this book is a must.

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