Synopses & Reviews
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.
"'Bhuttos very rarely, even then, died natural deaths,' Bhutto writes, speaking of her great-great-grandfather. And so it seems in this family history lived on a stage of national and international intrigue. A grandfather, Zulifar Ali Bhutto, executed; an uncle, Shanawaz Bhutto, murdered; a father, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, assassinated; and an aunt, Benazir Bhutto, assassinated; all inhabit this utterly fascinating blend of intimate but diligently researched family memoir and complex political history. The four decades from Fatima's grandfather's service as foreign minister in the 1960s to her aunt's assassination in 2007 encompass most of the history of Pakistan. Fatima covers its alliances, its wars, its coups, its treaties, its corruption, its inefficiency, its repression. The family's public political triumphs and tragedies are set within their private pleasures and painful quarrels--a life of power and a life in exile, falling in love and being imprisoned, the ease of wealth for happy childhoods and the anguish of adult separation so severe that Fatima holds her aunt Benazir culpable in her father's assassination. Partisan and controversial as aspects of it are, Fatima Bhutto's book is a lucid and engaging account of a nation and a family. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
William Dalrymple, Financial Times
“Moving, witty . . . a uniquely fascinating, wonderfully well-constructed memoir.”Sir Bob Geldof“The Bhuttos are an Asian Borgia or Plantagenet dynastic family. This then is an important and timely book offering a rare insight into the violent world of Pakistani politics told by a direct witness. It’s also the story of a daughter’s love for her murdered father and many other members of her family. Power not only corrupts—it kills.” The Independent“A story with dazzling twists and turns told by a true-blue member of the Bhutto fold.” Irish Times“Political intrigue, administrative corruption and widespread avarice, refracted through a narrative of family history and sibling hostilities, make Songs of Blood and Sword read like a darker version of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy.” Charles Glass, former ABC News Chief Middle East Correspondent, author of Tribes with Flags and Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation."Fatima Bhutto writes a compelling account that is both political and personal. Her life is proof that in Pakistan, torn apart by American diktat and local avarice, the political is the personal. Her passion and integrity ring out on every page. If you don't understand what is happening to Pakistan and Afghanistan, you soon will." Roderick Matthews, The Guardian“In clear and unpretentious prose [Songs of Blood and Sword] gives a vivid impression of the brutal and corrupt world of Pakistani power politics, which has resulted in the violent deaths of four members of the Bhutto dynasty in the past thirty-one years.”
In September 1996, fourteen-year-old Fatima Bhutto shielded her baby brother while shots rang out outside the family home in Karachi. This was the evening that her father, Murtaza, was assassinated. It was the latest in a long line of tragedies for one of the worlds best-known political dynasties.
Songs of Blood and Sword tells the story of a family of feudal landlords who became power brokers in the newly created state of Pakistan. It is an epic tale of intrigue and the international political elite, the making of modern Pakistan, and, ultimately, tragedy. It is also a book about a daughters love for her father and her search to uncover the truth of his life and death.
From one of the worlds most famous political dynasties, a sensational new literary voice tells the heartbreaking and revelatory tale of the family that shaped Pakistan
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.
About the Author
BROOKE ALLEN is the author of Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers and Twentieth-Century Attitudes: Literary Powers in Uncertain Times. A frequent contributor the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New Criterion, and other publications, she is also the chairman of the English department at Bennington College.