‘The gun is never far removed from the political arena in Southeast Asia,’ writes Michael Vatikiotis in his part memoir and part political study of the dynamics of modern Southeast Asia. In BLOOD AND SILK: POWER AND CONFLICT IN MODERN SOUTHEAST ASIA, writer and private diplomat Michael Vatikiotis delves deeply into the complexities of power and brutal realities of violent internal conflict in the region; he explains why Southeast Asia has become the frontline of two of the most important global conflicts: the struggle between a declining West and a rising China, and that between religious tolerance and extremism.
“In the past three decades the economies of Southeast Asia have grown, education and other social indicators have vastly improved, and cities like Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur have become among the most globally connected, modern and sophisticated places in the world. Yet beneath the sleek metropolitan glass-and-steel carapaces lurks an enduring and seething underbelly of unmet popular aspiration suppressed by the effective concentration of power in the hands of a privileged few. The more people have prospered and advanced, the more they comprehend how badly their leaders serve them. “Michael Vatikiotis