Narin Phasit was one of the most remarkable yet little-known figures in the annals of Thai history, a man who devoted his life to what the seventh king of Siam called "seeking a name for himself in a wildly inappropriate manner," and he himself preferred to describe as "working contentedly for my country, alone and despised by my fellow countrymen."
For what reason was Narin so despised? During the period of the absolute monarchy, he insisted that government officials should be held accountable for their actions, and in the years that followed the revolution he spoke out strongly against the rise of the military. He also established the first line of female monks in the history of Siam and fought to abolish capital punishment. The place that he properly belonged, said the leader of his country, Field Marshal Phibul Songkhram, was inside a mental institution.
Written as creative nonfiction, this is the engaging story of one man's relentless attempt to build a more humane society. Often told in Narin's own words, it is an unlikely tale of Buddhism, politics, and the creation of modern Thailand.
Peter Koret has taught courses in Buddhism and Southeast Asian culture and the Thai language at the University of California, Berkeley, and Arizona State University. He writes about Buddhism and politics in Southeast Asia with an emphasis on traditional Lao literature and Buddhist prophecy.