In This Review

Coup, King, Crisis: A Critical Interregnum in Thailand
Coup, King, Crisis: A Critical Interregnum in Thailand
Edited by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
379 pp, Yale Southeast Asia Studies, 2020

The death in 2016 of the revered king Bhumibol Adulyadej, who had reigned for 70 years, intensified a long-running crisis of legitimacy in Thai politics. In 2014, the military, fearing that the king’s son, Vajiralongkorn, would not be a popular successor, had carried out a coup—the country’s 12th since its transition to a constitutional monarchy in 1932—and intensified its use of the lese majesty law to repress critics of the monarchy. The new king turned out to be even more selfish, impulsive, and violent than feared. In this informative volume, 14 leading specialists on Thailand probe the stalemate between the conservative power structure of the monarchy, the military, and Buddhist leaders, on the one hand, and opposition forces among urban youth, the lower-middle class, and rural residents of the north and the northeast, on the other. The palace and the military cling to each other ever more tightly and rule ever less competently, a political alliance in obvious decline but incapable of either retreat or reform.