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Book Review: Thailand Transformed: 1950-2012: “Is Thailand the Test Case?” by Culver S. Ladd

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Thailand Transformed: 1950-2012: “Is Thailand the Test Case?’details the development of Thailand since 1950. Culver S. Ladd covers several recurring themes in this comprehensive history and analysis of the economic and political changes that have taken place over the last six decades.

These themes include:
• American involvement in Thailand
• Thailand as a test case
• Thailand’s emergence on the world scene in Asia
• The ongoing struggle for democracy in Thailand

Ladd, who is recognized as an East Asian specialist, provides background information on his education, training, and early teaching opportunities to establish his credentials for writing the book, for his analysis and his conclusions.

I am impressed with his accomplishments and his broad academic background. He has degrees in physical sciences, public administration and in international relations, with studies at Oxford, the American University, Maryland University, and the Consortium of District of Columbia Universities. I personally found it refreshing to note that he writes from a Christian world view.

In addition to a teaching career at the International School of Bangkok, and the University of Maryland Far East Division, and Payap University, Ladd worked with Business Research Company, Ltd., providing research and writing for major corporations interested in investment in Thailand.

Black and white photos included throughout the book capture the progression of Thailand’s development. The accompanying tables and charts show the society structure, reveal education’s impact on Thailand’s middle class and how this has made possible the growth in constitutionalism and democracy in Southeast Asia. The final chapter pictures the complexity of the on-going struggle for democracy.

Timely and important Thailand Transformed is a comprehensively complex history and analysis of Thailand and the future role in Southeast Asia.

(Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views)

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