Synopses & Reviews
Pakistan and India were born on the same days, August 14 and 15, 1947, in the midst of savage inter-religious violence: Hindus and Sikhs on one side and Muslims on the other. The partition of British India into these two new states resulted in the displacement of 12.5 million refugees and the death of more than one million people.
The violence has continued for 67 years. Following the partition, India and Pakistan have fought three wars and have each developed an arsenal of nuclear weapons in a dangerous game of one-upmanship. The 460-mile Line of Control in disputed Kashmir remains one of the most dangerous frontiers in the world, with around 400,000 soldiers stationed on either side. It is as if that August never ended.
In The Longest August renowned scholar and journalist Dilip Hiro provides a comprehensive and riveting account of the relationship between India and Pakistan and how they arrived at this seemingly unending impasse. Hiro argues that the roots of the conflict are based on the troubled history between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority in the Indian subcontinent, a clash that dates back eight centuries. The differences between the two countries intensified as they took very different paths after Partition. Pakistan was dominated by a series of military dictatorships and its economy did not take off in the same way as its eastern neighbor, where a population boom made India the worldand#8217;s largest democracy.
Hiro explores the geopolitical importance of the India-Pakistan dispute. Both countries share a border with China and were implicated in the Cold War, as Pakistan choose to align itself with the United States while India remained neutral and made deals with both the U.S. and Russia. In recent years, Pakistanand#8217;s place in the United States war on terror has placed it under more international scrutiny, raising tensions in the region once again.
The Longest August presents the definitive history of one of the worldand#8217;s longest-running and most intractable conflicts.
The partitioning of British India into independent Pakistan and India in August 1947 occurred in the midst of communal holocaust, with Hindus and Sikhs on one side and Muslims on the other. More than 750,000 people were butchered, and 12 million fled their homesand#151;primarily in caravans of bullock-cartsand#151;to seek refuge across the new border: it was the largest exodus in history. Sixty-seven years later, it is as if that August never ended.
Renowned historian and journalist Dilip Hiro provides a riveting account of the relationship between India and Pakistan, tracing the landmark events that led to the division of the sub-continent and the evolution of the contentious relationship between Hindus and Muslims. To this day, a reasonable resolution to their dispute has proved elusive, and the Line of Control in Kashmir remains the most heavily fortified frontier in the world, with 400,000 soldiers arrayed on either side.
Since partition, there have been several acute crises between the neighbors, including the secession of East Pakistan to form an independent Bangladesh in 1971, and the acquisition of nuclear weapons by both sides resulting in a scarcely avoided confrontation in 1999 and again in 2002. Hiro amply demonstrates the geopolitical importance of the India-Pakistan conflict by chronicling their respective ties not only with America and the Soviet Union, but also with China, Israel, and Afghanistan.
Hiro weaves these threads into a lucid narrative, enlivened with colorful biographies of leaders, vivid descriptions of wars, sensational assassinations, gross violations of human rightsand#151;and cultural signifiers like cricket matches. The Longest August is incomparable in its scope and presents the first definitive history of one of the worldand#8217;s longest-running and most intractable conflicts.
About the Author
Dilip Hiro is one of the worldand#8217;s leading experts on Middle Eastern, Central and South Asian, and Islamic affairs and has written many books including the classic history of the Iran-Iraq war, The Longest War, the national bestseller, Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm, and the acclaimed history of oil and politics, Blood of the Earth. He contributes regularly to The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Observer, The Nation, Los Angeles Times, Salon and TomDispatch, and is a commentator for CNN and the BBC.