While this book does provide an introduction to this significant, but under researched, area, and does have some useful and interesting insight into the modern Thai social scene, it falls far short of other work in this area (e.g. the work of Penny van Esterik or Nicola Tannenbaum). Perhaps the most disappointing for me were the first two pages and this set the tone for the rest of the book - the comments on early Thai history are hardly scholarly or correct, relying heavily on Quaritch Wales and Thanom Anamwat, neither of whom are specialists in this period, together with some highly disputed inscriptions. A glance at the bibliography is enough to tell the reader this is a light weight introductory work. Sadly there is no index. It is to be hoped it is followed by a more useful scholarly work which does actually rely on the source texts (which this book promised but failed to do)- as it stands it is something of a roman à thèse - passionately argued and one cannot quarrel with some of the sentiment. It is a pity it was not more deeply researched.
In recent years, we have been treated to a spate of books and articles on the subject of women in Buddhism, most of which tell us more about the authors' ideological biases than about women or Buddhism. Prof. Chatsumarn has written what is possibly the only book available on Thai women in Buddhism, and has done a superb job of it. I have searched far and wide for a book that would give me a sense of what it means to be Thai, female, and Buddhist. Even living in Thailand for a while, as I have, didn't afford the insight I sought. This is a subject which is rarely discussed, let alone written about. Prof. Chatsumarm deserves high marks just for having the courage to do it. It's an added bonus that she really knows what she's talking about. J. Thacker