Synopses & Reviews
“Among many recent books on Pakistan, Mr. Akbars stands out….A fine and detailed history of Indian Muslim anger and insecurity.”
In Tinderbox, Indias leading journalist delivers a fascinating narrative history of Pakistan, chronicling the conflict between Muslim and Hindu cultures in South Asia and describing the role that their relationship has played in defining both the country and the region. Editorial director of India Today and editor of the Sunday Guardian, M. J. Akbar gives readers an unprecedented look at Pakistan past and present. Panoramic in scope but specific in detail, with rich portraits of the central figures and events that have defined the nations history, Ackbars Tinderbox tells the Pakistanian story from the Middle Ages to the present, puts the Taliban and its place within modern Islam into a meaningful context, and diagnoses where the country is headed in the 21st century.
"In his first U.S. publication, prominent Indian journalist Akbar (Blood Brothers) brings his expertise in Hindu-Muslim relations and modern India to a historically grounded, informative, though uneven analysis of Pakistan. Attentive to the details of Islamic culture and society, the book focuses on Muslim-Hindu relations and their geopolitical expression from the 19th to mid-20th centuries. For Indian Muslims, argues Akbar, the arrival of the British began a long period of insecurity (intensifying under a British divide-and-rule strategy after the Indian Mutiny of 1857) among a once-confident minority population used to privileges and prestige under Muslim dynasties in India and the larger world. The desire for a Muslim 'comfort zone,' combined with a sense of past greatness, nourished the dream of a separate Muslim state, and insecurity was traded for uncertainty with the creation of Pakistan in the 1947 partition of India. Pakistan, however, has been rocked by social and cultural divisions as well as the tension between secular and religious authority. As for American foreign policy in Pakistan, Akbar only offers vague sketches. For U.S. collusion in a nuclear Pakistan, for instance, Akbar refers to other published English-language sources. The last few decades, up through the 2011 assassination of Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan are abbreviated and derivative. Nevertheless, this is a mostly reliable introduction to a restive and fascinating country. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A lively read. . . . Among many recent books on Pakistan, Mr. Akbars stands out . . . it is a fine and detailed history of Indian Muslim anger and insecurity, spawned by the 18th-century decline of the Mughals, and the way this played out in the freedom struggle.” The Economist
“Historically grounded, informative.” Publishers Weekly
“Akbars elegant, probing work exhibits a sympathetic insiders understanding of the complex, evolving relationship between Muslims and Hindus in the area. . . . Presents a thoughtful historical perspective, rich in detail, research and gloom.” Kirkus Reviews
“An acclaimed journalist gives us the one thing he can: an illuminating history.” Daily Beast
In Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan
, acclaimed author and journalist M. J. Akbar traces the search for a “Muslim space” that began in the eighteenth century, and the events, people, circumstances, and mind-set that culminated in a fractured India in 1947. But why is Pakistan in danger of becoming a “jelly state,” a country that constantly quivers on the edge of instability? Akbar investigates contradictions in the nations modern leadership, from Jinnahs secular ideals to the theocrats clear stance on creating a “sanctuary of Islam.” He also offers an intimate appraisal of the young nations future—including the global implications of nuclear armament and the harboring of terrorists like Osama bin Laden.
Tinderbox, a riveting and expansive biography of a nation, fills a crucial void in our understanding—even as the regions conflicts grow to affect the entire world.
About the Author
M. J. Akbar?is the editorial director of India Today and editor of the Sunday Guardian. His many books include India: The Siege Within, Nehru: The Making of India, Riot After Riot, Kashmir: Behind the Vale, and The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict Between Islam and Christianity. He lives in Delhi.