AdvertisementShifting Ground was initially published in late 2017, nearly a year into a Trump administration few had anticipated. Covering more than seven decades, from World War II to Thailand’s coup in 2014, it was and remains the only book to simultaneously analyze Thailand’s two most important bilateral relationships, with the United States and the People’s Republic of China. The product of in-depth research, including an exhaustive review of the Wikileaks cables and over fifty interviews with senior US and Thai political, diplomatic, and military officials, it was translated into Chinese and reviewed eleven times, including in the New York Review of Books.
The second edition of Shifting Ground, recently released by Bloomsbury in November 2021, features a new introduction and an afterword accounting for the major events and developments in all three countries since the Thai coup. The names King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump alone suggest how much has changed (and remained the same). The Belt and Road Initiative, Thailand’s 2019 elections, and the US Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy serve a similar role.
A year into a new US administration and the geo-political jostling hasn’t stopped: the Mekong River, Covid-19 and a host of senior Biden officials whose decisions to either visit Thailand or view it from the air speak directly to its place between the two global powers.
Robert D. Kaplan, author of Asia’s Cauldron and a Foreign Policy “top 100 global thinker”, calls the second edition “a fine, deeply researched study of a critical pivot state that gets less attention than it deserves. It is an example of blending area expertise with political philosophy: the best kind of book.”
Ralph “Skip” Boyce, former president of Boeing SE Asia and former US ambassador to Thailand. Skip worked for the US government in Thailand and SE Asia between 1988 and 2007. In that time, he held two ambassadorships in Indonesia and Thailand, each for three years, and was chargé d’affaires in Singapore for over a year. He has also been deputy chief of mission in Singapore and Thailand for a combined total of six years and spent three years as deputy assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific affairs.
Joe Horn-Phathanothai, or Chang Nianzhou as he is known in Chinese, founded Strategy613 in 2000 to provide blue chip companies with investment advice, principally for Thailand and China, and most recently in the context of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Joe, who is British-Thai and a Cambridge graduate, was partly educated in Beijing. His family has played an exceptional role in Thai-Chinese relations over the course of three generations. His mother, Sirin Phathanothai, and her brother Warnwai were sent to China following the Bandung Conference of 1956 by their father, Sang, the chief adviser to the Thai prime minister, Field Marshal Pibulsongkram. The children were brought up there by Premier Zhou Enlai and were witness to the Cultural Revolution.
Benjamin Zawacki is a senior program specialist at the Asia Foundation, focusing on regional security, and a 2022-23 Mansfield-Luce Asia Scholar. He was a term member on the Council on Foreign Relations until 2016, and a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School in 2014 and 2015. He served as a policy advisor to President Jimmy Carter and two other Elders in Myanmar in 2013 and was Amnesty International's Southeast Asia researcher for five years until 2012. He has also worked for several UN agencies. A regular contributor to the media in Southeast Asia, he has published over 50 articles, reports, and opinion editorials in addition to his book, which was translated into Chinese in September 2019. He is a member of the New York State Bar and a graduate of the George Washington University law school, and the College of the Holy Cross. He has lived in Thailand for 19 years.
Event Venue & Nearby Stays
Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand - FCCT, 518/5 Ploenchit Road, Maneeya Center, Penthouse, Bangkok, Thailand