A Kingdom in Crisis

Thailand's Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century

Andrew MacGregor Marshall

New Edition


A fascinating, engaged account of a country on the brink of change.

‘Perhaps the best introduction yet to the roots of Thailand’s present political impasse. A brilliant book.’
Simon Long, The Economist

Struggling to emerge from a despotic past, and convulsed by an intractable conflict that will determine its future, Thailand stands at a defining moment in its history. Scores have been killed on the streets of Bangkok. Freedom of speech is routinely denied. Democracy appears increasingly distant. And many Thais fear that the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej is expected to unleash even greater instability.

Yet in spite of the impact of the crisis, and the extraordinary importance of the royal succession, they have never been comprehensively analysed – until now. Breaking Thailand's draconian lèse majesté law, Andrew MacGregor Marshall is one of the only journalists covering contemporary Thailand to tell the whole story.

Marshall provides a comprehensive explanation that for the first time makes sense of the crisis, revealing the unacknowledged succession conflict that has become entangled with the struggle for democracy in Thailand.

Author Bio

Andrew MacGregor Marshall is a journalist, political risk consultant and corporate investigator, focusing mainly on Southeast Asia. He spent seventeen years as a correspondent for Reuters, covering conflicts in, among others, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and political upheaval in Thailand. Marshall resigned from Reuters 2011 after the news agency refused to publish his analysis of leaked US cables illuminating the role played by Thailand’s monarchy in the political conflict that has engulfed the kingdom. A fugitive from Thai law as a result of his journalism about the royal family, he now lives in Sydney and works as head of news for Greenpeace Australia.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Telling the Truth About Thailand
  • Part I: Royalty Versus Reality
    • 1. 'When the Legends Die, All Collapses' - Thailand's political awakening
    • 2. 'In a Never–Never Land, Never Mind' - Welcome to the Land of Smiles
    • 3. 'Cosmological Bluster' - The Dramatics of Despotism
  • Part II: Thai–Style Democracy and its Discontents
    • 4. 'Our Country Belongs to the People - Not to the King': Thailand's Unfinished Revolution
    • 5. 'I Really am an Elected King' - The Royalist Revival
    • 6. 'There is Magic, Goodness and Power in His Heart' - The Deification of Rama IX
  • Part III: The Secrets of Succession
    • 7. 'Endless Struggles for the Throne' - The Causes of Chronic Palace Conflict
    • 8. 'One Neither Walks, Speaks, Drinks, Eats, Nor Cooks Without Some Kind of Ceremony' - The Pleasures and Privations of Being King
    • 9. 'I Cannot Afford to Die' - The Tragedy of King Bhumibol
  • Part IV: Crisis and Confrontation
    • 10. 'Living in Horrifying Times' - Twilight of the Oligarchy
    • 11. 'Coupmakers' Haunted Dreams' - Escalation and Enlightenment
    • 12. 'Returning Happiness to the People' - Denying Democracy, Sabotaging Succession
  • Epilogue: 'Flip on the Lights and Flush out the Ghosts' - What the Future Holds


‘A bold and convincing argument that at the centre of Thailand’s political turmoil is the succession to the throne.’
Paul Handley, journalist and author of The King Never Smiles

‘Perhaps the best introduction yet to the roots of Thailand’s present political impasse. A brilliant book that could perhaps have been written only by somebody who knows Thailand so well he knew he had to leave the country to write it.’
Simon Long, Banyan columnist, The Economist

‘A brilliant, incisive rewriting of Thailand’s history and monarchy. An instant classic that promises to permanently change the conversation, both inside and outside the country.’
Christine Gray, anthropologist and pioneering analyst of Thailand’s monarchy

‘An explosive analysis that lays bare what the Thai elite has tried to keep hidden for decades. A clear-eyed view of what is really at stake in Thailand’s continuing turmoil.’
David Streckfuss, author of Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lèse-Majesté

‘A timely and highly readable account of the grim political reality of the Land of Smiles. An essential primer for every visitor.’
Joe Studwell, author of Asian Godfathers and How Asia Works

'A Kingdom in Crisis ... engages critically with the discourse surrounding the monarchy and represents an important contribution.'
Journal of Contemporary Asia


Publication Date: 15 November 2015
256 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781783606023
Hardback: 9781783600588
eBook ePub 2nd Edition: 9781783606856
eBook PDF 2nd Edition: 9781783607808
eBook Kindle 2nd Edition: 9781783606849

Previous Editions: Paperback 1st Edition: 9781783600571
eBook ePub 1st Edition: 9781783600601
eBook PDF 1st Edition: 9781783600595
eBook Kindle 1st Edition: 9781783600618

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