Synopses & Reviews
Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October 2007, after eight years of exile, hopeful that she could be a catalyst for change. Upon a tumultuous reception, she survived a suicide-bomb attack that killed nearly two hundred of her countrymen. But she continued to forge ahead, with more courage and conviction than ever, since she knew that time was running out for the future of her nation, and for her life.
In Reconciliation, Bhutto recounts in gripping detail her final months in Pakistan and offers a bold new agenda for how to stem the tide of Islamic radicalism and to rediscover the values of tolerance and justice that lie at the heart of her religion. With extremist Islam on the rise throughout the world, the peaceful, pluralistic message of Islam has been exploited and manipulated by fanatics. Bhutto persuasively argues that America and Britain are fueling this turn toward radicalization by supporting groups that serve only short-term interests. She believed that by enabling dictators, the West was actually contributing to the frustration and extremism that lead to terrorism. With her experience governing Pakistan and living and studying in the West, Benazir Bhutto was versed in the complexities of the conflict from both sides. She was a renaissance woman who offered a way out.
In this riveting and deeply insightful book, Bhutto explores the complicated history between the Middle East and the West. She traces the roots of international terrorism across the world, including American support for Pakistani general Zia-ul-Haq, who destroyed political parties, eliminated an independent judiciary, marginalized NGOs, suspended the protection of human rights, and aligned Pakistani intelligence agencies with the most radical elements of the Afghan mujahideen. She speaks out not just to the West, but to the Muslims across the globe who are at a crossroads between the past and the future, between education and ignorance, between peace and terrorism, and between dictatorship and democracy. Democracy and Islam are not incompatible, and the clash between Islam and the West is not inevitable.
Bhutto presents an image of modern Islam that defies the negative caricatures often seen in the West. After reading this book, it will become even clearer what the world has lost by her assassination.
"If Ms. Bhutto's own life reads like a Greek tragedy, she was nonetheless a very modern politician, and the book she has written is part manifesto, part spin job, part selective history and part term-paper analysis." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"[T]he book is like the woman alternately fascinating, frustrating and opaque in a dodgy sort of way." The Los Angeles Times
"Despite its flaws of self-indulgence and omission, this book contains a larger truth. Islam does need to find its place as a moderate guiding force for millions of followers in the modern world, instead of being stolen by jihadists and written off as the religion of suicide bombers." The Washington Post Book World
"This is a courageous and powerful answer to hatred and intolerance, written by an extraordinary woman. Reading Benazir Bhutto's Reconciliation shows just how much we lost with her death. You'll finish it and mourn for what might have been." Arianna Huffington
"It is impossible to understand today's world without knowing Pakistan; and impossible to understand Pakistan without reading this book. A courageous woman tragically killed speaks to us of reconciliation. We owe it to her and to ourselves to listen, comprehend, and act." Madeleine Albright
"Benazir Bhutto's book is a powerful and insightful analysis of the formidable challenges that confronted an extraordinary woman who paid the ultimate price for daring to attempt to bring democracy to Pakistan. President Kennedy would have called her a Profile in Courage." Ted Kennedy
"This book is an eloquent reflection of traits which defined the life of Benazir Bhutto an unshakable optimism about the future, a firm belief in the power of dialogue, and a commitment to democracy. The strength of her message of hope underscores how much was lost in her tragic death." Nancy Pelosi
Before her untimely death, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan wrote of the rapidly growing tension between Islam and the West. Reconciliation offers a realistic overview of ways to bridge the cultural, political, and economic chasms that separate these differing cultures.
Benazir Bhutto, the first woman to lead a Muslim nation, served two terms as the prime minister of Pakistan before charges of corruption resulted in her self-imposed exile. Bhutto later returned to her homeland, where she was assassinated by a sniper while waving from her motorcade upon leaving a political rally. Brooke Allen, a leading literary critic and the author of Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers and two collections of essays, ventures into new territory in this brief biography of a charismatic figure who had a profound effect on the politics of South Asia.
Benazir Bhutto led one of the most dramatic lives of the twentieth century. Born to privilege as the daughter of one of Pakistan’s great feudal families, groomed for a diplomatic career at Harvard and Oxford, she was thrust into the political arena when her father, Pakistan’s charismatic and controversial prime minister, was overthrown and executed by the military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Her remarkable rise from persecuted opposition figure to warrior for democracy and her apotheosis as prime minister (Bhutto was the first woman to lead a Muslim nation) were matched by the Grand Guignol of her downfall as she and her husband were accused of corruption on a large scale and suspected by many of engineering the murder of her oppositional brother. Bhutto’s unsolved assassination during her comeback presidential bid in 2007 added to a tragic familial legacy that easily rivals that of the Kennedy family or the house of Atreus. Brooke Allen’s biography draws on contemporary news sources and eyewitness reports as well as narratives by Bhutto herself, her supporters, and her enemies.
About the Author
Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996, and the chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Born in 1953 in Karachi, Bhutto was the first woman ever to lead a Muslim state. She lived in exile since 1999 and had returned to Pakistan in October 2007, two months before her assassination.