Thailand’s 1932 and its Reformers

Amnesia. A History of Democratic Idealism in Modern Thailand is an excellent book by Arjun Subrahmanyan, and published by the State University of New York Press. It is reviewed for JCA by Kevin Hewison.

Recent anti-monarchy/monarchy reform movements have added to an appetite for more knowledge of the people and events of 1932. Subrahmanyan’s outstanding Amnesia came out at just the right time. The author delivers a deft historical account that should sate the appetite of activists wanting to know more about 1932 and will also satisfy those who seek to better understand the events of the 1932–1949 period.

Hewison points out that those with an interest in Thailand’s history and politics know that 1932 is a pivotal date. However, as Subrahmanyan’s title intimates, much has been ignored, forgotten, or scrambled by royalist ideology and propaganda. Amnesia is a book mainly about idealists who took the 1932 revolution seriously and tried to create a better Thailand.

The reviewer concludes that Amnesia provides a refreshingly well-researched and eloquent account of a period that provided some hope for democratic idealists. The book deserves a wide readership to better contextualise contemporary political opposition and to better understand the past.

50 free online copies of the review are available:

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