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Books: A Siamese family's story across the centuries

'Chariot of the Sun' traces remarkable journey from 16th-century Persia to Greece and contemporary Thailand

Author Shane Bunnag says his book "ended up as more than a chronology of a family; it became a compendium of Siamese knowledge, charting the patterns and repetitions, the seasons of a people." (Nikkei montage/Source photos by River Books, Shane Bunnag)

The name of Thailand's capital city has recently been the subject of some unhappiness and confusion. In February, the Thai cabinet approved a proposal from the Office of the Royal Society, which controls such matters, to make the city's designated English name, Bangkok, subsidiary to the cumbersome Thai name Krung Thep Maha Nakhon.

The Thai version, which means City of Angels, is the designation by which most Thais refer to their capital. But the name Bangkok is also Thai, and has been in use since at least the 17th century as the name of a trading village on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. Its usage predates the location of the capital.

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