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Pakistan: A Hard Countryby Anatol Lieven
Synopses & Reviews
In the past decade Pakistan has become a country of immense importance to its region, the United States, and the world. With almost 200 million people, a 500,000-man army, nuclear weapons, and a large diaspora in Britain and North America, Pakistan is central to the hopes of jihadis and the fears of their enemies. Yet the greatest short-term threat to Pakistan is not Islamist insurgency as such, but the actions of the United States, and the greatest long-term threat is ecological change.
Anatol Lieven's book is a magisterial investigation of this highly complex and often poorly understood country: its regions, ethnicities, competing religious traditions, varied social landscapes, deep political tensions, and historical patterns of violence; but also its surprising underlying stability, rooted in kinship, patronage, and the power of entrenched local elites. Engagingly written, combining history and profound analysis with reportage from Lieven's extensive travels as a journalist and academic, Pakistan: A Hard Country is both utterly compelling and deeply revealing.
"Lieven (Chechnya), who has reported on Pakistan off and on for 20 years, offers a compelling argument for reorienting Western interests (and investments) in its wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Given its enormous population (six times that of Afghanistan), the key role Pakistani intelligence plays in Western efforts against terrorism, the strong ties between Pakistan and Western countries (especially Britain), and the fact that Pakistan's army is one of Asia's strongest (complete with nuclear weapons), Lieven writes, 'Pakistan is quite simply far more important to the region, the West and the world than is Afghanistan: a statement which is a matter not of sentiment but of mathematics.' His extensive history and cartography of the country comes equipped with solid policy prescriptions — for drone attacks to be ceased and for the U.S. to acknowledge how powerfully the bungled invasion of Afghanistan contributed to instability in the region — and particularly the growth of the Taliban. Though his language can occasionally be patronizing, Lieven's writing is generally excellent. He wrestles huge amounts of material into a coherent whole, cogently explaining the intricate and interconnected roles played by kinship, regional allegiances, religion, and the military, shedding light on the country 'in all its complex patchwork of light and shadow.' (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An expert's compelling portrait of the complex, volatile country now situated at the fulcrum of international concerns
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History and Social Science » Asia » India » Ancient and General