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The controversial career of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was the focus of The Thaksinization of Thailand (NIAS, 2005). Co-authored by Duncan McCargo and political economist Ukrist Pathmanand, Thaksinization is the best-selling book ever published by NIAS Press.

Thaksin is an opportunistic politician, for whom ideas are simply a means to an end. He is not animated by the pursuit of ideas, but the pursuit of wealth and power. Thaksin's greatest achievement is the creation of a formidable political and economic power network (McCargo and Ukrist 2005: 20).

Thaksinization includes chapters on his telecoms businesses, the Thai Rak Thai Party, his politicization of the military, Thaksin's political discourse and his new political economy networks. One of the concluding scenarios we discussed turned out to be prophetic:

(Thaksin) could ultimately face May 1992-style protest that would make his premiership completely untenable. Such protests could occur if Thaksin becomes profoundly alienated from the urban electorate, who are numerically small but of immense political significance (McCargo and Ukrist 2005: 252).

Here's a pdf of the book.

From Reviews

“Much of the book is meticulously arranged, assembling a good range of academic, anecdotal and media material to support a wide-ranging thesis about Thaksin and his influence on Thailand.” “McCargo and Ukrist have made a special contribution to our understanding of Thaksin and his Thailand.” “…this is essential reading.”

Nich Farrelly, Asian Journal of Social Science

“This excellent book, the product of a joint effort between a political scientist (McCargo) and a political economist (Ukrist), considerably deepens and extends our knowledge of the Thaksin phenomenon…. McCargo and Ukrist’s book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding ‘‘Thaksinization’’ and what is clearly an extraordinary chapter in modern Thailand’s political history.”

Andrew Brown, Journal of Contemporary Asia

Articles on Thaksin

Duncan McCargo, ‘Toxic Thaksin? Thailand’s troublesome ex-premier’, Representation, 47, 3, 2011: 295–306.

Duncan McCargo, ‘Democracy under Stress in Thaksin’s Thailand’, Journal of Democracy, 13, 4, 2002: 112–26.