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Blood and Silk

Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia

Michael Vatikiotis



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13 June 2017
History; Political oppression & persecution; Political corruption
Southeast Asia is a poster child for a model of development - building of modern infrastructure and open markets to fuel economic growth - that for almost three decades has lifted most of the ten countries of the region out of poverty. Yet beyond the beach clubs and plush five-star hotel lobbies, the heart of Southeast Asia is a dark and forbidding place where lust for power and naked greed mean that ordinary people's lives are uncertain and insecure, with conflict never far below the calm surface of outward politeness.

Confounding those who argue that democracy and stability march hand in hand with growth and development, Southeast Asia's social and political transformation has been haltingly slow and marked by pronounced periods of protracted conflict and upheaval - Thailand alone has witnessed two military coups since the turn of the twentieth century. Violence haunts the political landscape and is entrenched in the small wars that unceasingly afflict the margins. Blood and Silk begins as a journey, the author's own long voyage of discovery in the region over the past three decades.

What follows is a taxonomy of sorts, a detailed delving into the different forms of conflict, ranging from the prevalence of elite power struggles with violent consequences to ethnic and religious wars, and territorial disputes. Vatikiotis aims to dispel the myth of a tropical Arcady, and give proper consideration to the grim reality of perpetual threats to lives and livelihoods in Southeast Asia.

For etched on the faces of the ordinary people, whether the roadside sate seller in Jakarta, the noodle stall owner in Bangkok, or the long suffering, foot-scratching, ear-picking, tea-shop owner in Rangoon is the same weary look of resignation. They have limited scope for improving their lives, but what makes things worse is that those who do, the power holders, are selfish and narrowly focused on pursuing the interests of power and personal wealth, at their expense.
By:   Michael Vatikiotis
Imprint:   Orion
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 231mm,  Width: 157mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   395g
ISBN:   9781474602013
ISBN 10:   1474602010
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   13 June 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Out of Print

Michael Vatikiotis is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and earned his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He is a member of the Asia Society's International Council and has a decade of experience working as a private diplomat and conflict mediator. Prior to that he worked as a research student and then a journalist based in Southeast Asia. @jagowriter

Reviews for Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia

A fascinating and many-layered portrait of Southeast Asia, brimming with colourful characters, insights and anecdotes, Blood and Silk is a rich palimpsest as can only be written by a longstanding student and scholar of the region like Michael Vatikiotis -- Thant Myint-U, author of <i>THE RIVER OF LOST FOOTSTEPS</i> [An] ambitious and timely book * THE ECONOMIST * Vatikiotis's arguments are fluent and convincing, and his writing is suffused with a deep knowledge of and affection for Southeast Asia and its peoples. -- Richard Cockett * LITERARY REVIEW * Blood and Silk is not a dry socio-political analysis. Vatikiotis has an eye for quirky detail, whether it be the Thai crown prince's pet poodle commissioned as an air force officer and dressed in uniform, or the self-important Muslim separatist from southern Thailand who prayed with Osama bin Laden in Khartoum but found the terrorist mastermind uninspiring and unimpressive. In the end, though, the outlook is menacing. Indonesia risks the kind of ethnic and religious sectarian strife we see in the Middle East today . Malaysians are dismayed by the slow disintegration of the multiracial compact . In Thailand, there is little prospect of the military willingly giving up power . The Philippines remains a prisoner of oligarchy . Even Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar has disappointed her liberal supporters. We can hope that Vatikiotis is wrong, but I fear he is not. -- VICTOR MALLET * FINANCIAL TIMES * Books on the rise of Asia tend to concentrate on China and India. Vatikiotis fills a gap by providing a lively and learned guide to the politics, personalities and conflicts that are shaping a dynamic group of countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma -- Gideon Rachman * FINANCIAL TIMES </i> Summer Reads<i> *

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