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Pakistan: A Hard Country Paperback – 23 Feb 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (23 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141038241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141038247
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Superb ... Few writers offer the insight and deep knowledge that Lieven has of a country critical for the West but one often caricatured by the media and rarely understood by Western policy makers ... Timely and compelling (Maleeha Lodhi )

This is a wonderful book, full of learning, wisdom, humour and common sense (Peter Oborne Daily Telegraph )

One cannot give Lieven enough credit ... The book seamlessly flows with historical analysis, anthropological investigation, and painstaking contextualisation ... It is both grand in its scholastic description and in its journalistic flair (Ahmad Ali Khalid Dawn )

A finely researched blend of the nation's 64-year history ... Lieven's feat lies in his remarkable, flesh-and-blood portrait of the nation ... this nuanced analysis should be read, and learned from (The Independent )

By far the most insightful survey of Pakistan I have read in recent years ... a vital book ... detailed and nuanced (Mohsin Hamid New York Review of Books )

Lieven captures the richness of the place wonderfully. His book has the virtues of both journalism and scholarship (The Economist )

An important corrective to the monolithic view of Pakistan ... fresh and deeply informed (Patrick French Mail on Sunday )

A brilliantly articulated and researched argument ... Lieven is a wonderful writer. There are frequent moments of dark humour ... and descriptions that a novelist might envy (Kamila Shamsie The Times )

Everybody nowadays seems to take a view on Pakistan. Very few know what they're talking about. Anatol Lieven is that rare observer ... Pakistan: A Hard Country ... fills a large gap in our understanding (Edward Luce, author of 'In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India' )

The publication of Pakistan: A Hard Country could not be more timely ... illuminating as well as entertaining (The Spectator )

With patience and determination, Lieven observes and records all aspects of the curiosity otherwise known as Pakistan ... A sweeping and insightful narrative (Mohammed Hanif The New York Times )

About the Author

Anatol Lieven is Professor of International Relations and Terrorism Studies at King's College, London and a senior fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington DC. He was previously a journalist, who reported from South Asia, the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe for The Times (London) and other publications. His books include Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power (1998); America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (2004); and Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World (with John Hulsman) (2006).

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. Rafiq on 28 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone that gets most of their ideas on Pakistan from the media - I generally would have a negative understanding of Pakistan. this book explains how modern Pakistan works and what the issues are in the present day. It explains the politics and military structures to a T.

I would give it five stars but the author's writing style involves a lot of parentheses which I found disrupted my reading flow.

If you want to know about Pakistan, buy this book, it will open your eyes. You may even fall in love with Pakistan.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By B. R. Ghafoor on 9 Dec 2012
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This is a very clear book and I would recommend it.

The book would also have been more enjoyable if amazon paid taxes properly in the UK.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By RJP on 15 July 2012
Format: Paperback
'Pakistan: A Hard Country' is perhaps the ideal title for Lieven's book. It is not a short and sharp journalistic account, nor is it a testing academic volume: Lieven writes as a social scientist, historian and anthropologist, stitching together an intricate picture based as much on the author's personal interactions and experiences in Pakistan as it is on archival sources. It is a solid and eminently readable primer on Pakistan's quagmire politics, but one written with an evident personal passion for the subject - highly recommended.

(The 2012 paperback edition also includes a brief afterword covering the killing of Bin Laden and its effects on US-Pakistani relations).
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ian on 11 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book - well researched, authoritative, dense but readable. The "hard" in the title is multifaceted. It refers to the facts that Pakistan is hard to understand, hard to live in, hard to deal with, hard to be optimistic about its future......
I was left with the image of a square, slightly tipped so that the corners are at different heights.
On top, and most significant, is social conservatism through patronage, kinship, nepotism, corruption and something akin to "feudalism" (the inverted commas indicate its difference from the European model. In Pakistan it is not all land based or ancestral). Next in terms of significance is the army, possibly the only coherent and reasonably well run organisation in the country. It stands apart from most of the "feudal" and other problems but from time to time steps in and takes the reins of power. Forms of Islam are the third corner but these are fragmented and despite the problems they present this means that there is little threat of an Islamic takeover. At the bottom comes Government, ineffectually coloured by the kinship and Islamic corners.
Pakistan is an artificial concept, inadvisably created as West Pakistan (now Pakistan) was combined with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to solve the Muslims in India problem. Following Muslim migrations out of India the misadventure continued with war between the two halves of Pakistan which split into separate countries. Hostility between Pakistan and India remains unabated. There are probable Pakistan Army links with the Afghanistan Taleban fostered as a strategic lever against India. An interesting point made almost as an aside is that there is little sense of nationality in Pakistan and that this is common in "countries" without a national education system.
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I'd seen several positive reviews of this book in the Guardian last year and had made a mental note to get myself a copy once it came out in paperback. Firstly, it's worth noting that this paperback edition features two maps of Pakistan, the first shows it and the countries it borders, the second is a more detailed zoomed in map detailing the various provinces of Punjab, Sindh etc. The lack of a map was a chief criticism of many of the preceding reviews on this page and one that almost convinced me to not buy the book, so I can only assume this has been changed since the release of the paperback.

Onto the book itself, having lived with a friend from Lahore at University, we found ourselves always drawn back to discussing his home nation and it's myriad of problems, the control the ISI wields, the paradox of Jinnah and the Taliban. Having both read it, we agreed that its an interesting piece of work but it does fall short in some respects. Several parts of the book are dedicated to discussing a certain province, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. My friend's chief criticism here was the lack of discussion of the other peoples who make up the nation of Pakistan. Whilst, as Mr Lieven duly notes that Pakistan could not function without the hegemony that the multitudinous Punjabis enjoy,it's a shame to see the Parsi, Irani, and Pashtun people living outside of Balochistan not given much, if any column inches.

My second criticism would be how in the latter half of the book, it begins to tail off. Prophetically the last chapter is called 'Defeating the Taliban?' a problem so complex that a generation of statesman have failed to come close.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Diacha on 27 May 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is excellent as well as timely. It is full of clear thinking, colorful detail and rich anecdotes about a country whose fate is critical to the West.

Anatole Lieven is a former Times journalist and a professor at Kings College. He has lived and travelled extensively in Pakistan over twenty years and interviewed hundreds of Pakistanis from all walks of life including many current and former military and intelligence personnel. He writes more like a journalist than an academic, in what might be termed a literate, colloquial style. ("The Pathans...(are like)... eighteenth century Scots without the alcohol').

"Pakistan: A Hard Country" is teeming with voices and vignettes, a mini metaphor for the country itself. Thus, for example, we witness a traditional pig hunt hosted by Sardar Mumtaz, scion of the Bhutto clan (the unspeakable in hot pursuit of the unhalalable?) and join an Anglican service in St Johns Cathedral in Peshawar where a few beleaguered Christians sing hymns beneath plaques commemorating Scottish and English soldiers killed by tribal insurgents one hundred and fifty years before. We meet such people as the moderate Islamist Colonel Abdul Qayyum ("The Pakistani army has been a nationalist army with an Islamic look"), Dr Shamim Gul, a grandmotherly police surgeon who takes a futile stand against honour killings ("sometimes the bodies fall to pieces and I have to put them back together') and Shehzad, a "Chekhovian steward" who almost drives his mistress mad ("What can I do? He harasses me unmercilessly but he has been with my father for ever."), Afzad Khan, an ANP politician whose nose seems "to be growing in...
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