Reading Bangkok is an account of stories and meanings derived from the built fabric and spaces of Thailand's capital city. The narrative shifts from King Taksin's mostly forgotten but wondrous Thonburi to the tourist spectacle of Rattanakosin, Dusit and Ratchadamnoen (King Rama V's superficial emulation of an admired, imperialist Europe), Sukhumvit Road (consumer land), and the slums that are part of the modern city. Levels of external intrusion (colonisation) and local resistance provide a structuring device for the book. The geographical movement from the centre to periphery (Thonburi, Rattanakosin, Ratchadamnoen, Sukhumvit, Ratchadapisek, Khlong Toei, the universities) takes place in tandem with a chronological transition from internal or self-colonisation (Bangkok's incorporation of its periphery, which in turn colonised Bangkok), to the economic colonisation of the 19th and 20th centuries, the invasion of globalised tourism (colonisation by consumption), colonisation by the "better" ideas of others — typically in the West, and finally to colonisation by "better" ways of thinking — notably the intrusions of the universities and of popular democracy. This highly original study draws on history, anthropology, urban planning and development and political economy, and is supported by a rich body of empirical detail. It provides insights into a maze of power relations, inequalities and global influences that is normally hidden from view. Reading Bangkok is a rare thing, an account that genuinely changes the way its subject is understood.