From Chris Acree:
I’m planning a trip which will take me through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I recently began selecting a few books about each country to read to cover the history, culture, or other interesting aspects of the area. In particular, my favorite books in this vein are Country Driving and China Airborne, both about China.
However, in searching, I’ve found Cambodia has plenty of literature (Cambodia’s Curse by Pulitzer winner Joel Brinkley seems a good starting point), and Vietnam has at least a couple good books (I picked up Vietnam: Rising Dragon at your recommendation), whereas Thailand seems bereft of strong English-language histories or non-guide travel books. Amazon searches return almost exclusively books targeted towards sex tourists, and the Economist article here http://www.economist.com/node/16155881 is mostly over 10 years old. Kindle availability is also unavailable for most of their selections, which, while not a necessity for me, hints at books that aren’t aging well or being actively updated.
Has no reputable author written a great Thai travel book in the last 10 years? If not, why not? What books would you recommend on Thailand?
How about this biography of Bhumibol Adulyadej? Falcon of Siam is historical fiction of note. Thailand — Culture Smart! is good for browsing. You can read a variety of books on Jim Thompson, and speaking of Thompson this cookbook by David Thompson is a must. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is one of the best movies ever made; watch these too, noting that Syndromes and a Century offers insight into the Thai health care system. I am not recommending use of such services, but perhaps the best of the books for sex tourists are interesting too? Siamese Soul is a good retro collection of Thai popular music from the 1960s through 1980s, hard on some ears but I like it.
People, what else do you recommend?