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The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power [Hardcover]

Tariq Ali
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Sep 2008
Pakistan, the likely home of Osama Bin Laden and safe house for the Taliban forces fighting NATO in Afghanistan, stands on the front line of the war against terror. Yet, as recent events have shown, this long-time ally of the West and recipient of $10 billion of American aid in the past decade, is in deepening crisis. As President Pervez Musharraf struggles, with ever-diminishing success, to cling to power through states of emergency and imprisonment of his opponents, a range of forces are attempting to fill the vacuum that surrounds him: (before her death) Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, both previous presidents themselves and, Ali, argues, more corrupt than Musharraf himself; a lawyers movement that has taken to the streets demanding adherence to the constitution and the rule of law; and the Islamists in Waziristan and the North West Frontier whose increasingly effective assaults on the Pakistan army threaten to tip the country into full-blown civil war.With customary verve and acuity, Ali parses the prospects for these contending groups, drawing on extensive first-hand research and personal knowledge of many of the key players involved to assess the causes and consequences of Pakistan's rapid spiral into political chaos.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (15 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847373550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847373557
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 928,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'"The Duel" should be read for an understanding of the role America has played in creating this dangerous mix and why many Pakistanis see us as responsible for their problems'
-- Bruce Riedel, Washington Post

'Not since Ayesha Siddiqa's groundbreaking work "Military Inc" has there been such a well-informed and articulate account of the country's history' -- Mohammed Hanif, The Guardian


'"The Duel" should be read for an understanding of the role America has played in creating this dangerous mix and why many Pakistanis see us as responsible for their problems'

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview 1 Oct 2011
This is a good primer for the conflicts in the sub-continent. Tariq Ali is an insightful observer.

However the latter half of the book is a bit repetitive. Some points are made over and over. As another reviewer mentioned, this book is more personal than scholarly. However it is often difficult to maintain complete objectivity when one is as intimately connected to the subject as Ali is.

Even with those minor faults, this book is well worth reading and indeed should be required reading for those interested in the region. I do wish Ali would bring an updated vesion about the effects of the Obama surge in Afganistan. With the killing of Karzai's brother and of Rabbani and the continuing upsurge in taliban activity, the endgame in Afganistan seems murkier than ever before.

Does anybody have a workable solution or is going to be status quo ante?
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great analysis. A very necessary book. 14 Nov 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We are heading towards the U.S. presidency of Barack Obama. Obama has promised to put the war in Afghanistan high on his list of priorities. Not to reach a negotiated settlement, but to achieve the mirage of a military victory. This will involve U.S. military action in Pakistan and risk destabilising that country. If anyone doubted that Pakistan was being sucked into the centre of the maelstrom of the War Against Terror, they can stop doubting.

It's with this near future in mind that I read Tariq Ali's `The Duel', hoping to find a clear understanding of Pakistani political history and, expecially, how the relationship with U.S. imperialism works. This book gave me what I was looking for.

Tariq knows Pakistani politics and history, knows many of the individuals he writes about personally and, coupled with his own astute political analysis, is able to present a clear and readable account of that politics and history.

It has to be said, that the history of Pakistan is not a pretty one. This unattractive history is marked by the duel (hence the title of the book) between the mass of the Pakistani people and those corrupt, venal and vicious people who make up the elite of Pakistani society - both the civilians and the military - and who run that society in their own interests and in the interests of their key foreign backers in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

Tariq presents this history well and weaves analysis into the narrative. You can tell that he also writes novels as his style is very readable.

Key events in Pakistani history are clearly explained and spice added as Tariq delves into such things as competing theories as to who assassinated the vile General Zia and why the journalist Daniel Pearl was murdered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Glaring Factual Errors 20 July 2013
By an
It is shocking how can someone supposedly an expert in Pakistan affairs make such horrendous factual errors as Tariq Ali does. It was the first book of Tariq Ali I had bought, I wanted to get the perspective of a person like him who is not a Pakistani citizen but (I expected) maintained a close eye on happenings in the country but was thoroughly disappointed.

Tariq Ali writes that Musharraf had put Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary in solitary prison and Imran Khan was charged with offences related to terrorism. Having followed the events leading to fall of Musharraf closely, I know that both are incorrect. Having read this it made me question whether other things he has written are correct or not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a bulldozer to past priorities 26 Nov 2011
This is a bulldozer of a book, which convincingly trashes the priorities of Pakistan's past. Ali writes blisteringly well, though sometimes the wit and detail comes too thick and fast for a non-expert like me. But basically, it gets abundantly clear that for 60 years the biggest danger to the Pakistani people has been their own armed forces. And the most harmful policy of foreign powers has been supporting the military as the key to controlling Pakistan's people. If anyone wants to defend the present priorities of spending many times more on the armed forces than on education and health, Ali's book will blow them out of the water.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, Brutal, Excellent 16 Oct 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A real honest, brutal at times, account of the failures of present and past politicians of Pakistan in implementing the will of the voters in national and international matters. Charting how the Pak-American relationship was formed over the early part of the country's existence. Gives a well written account of regional politics today, providing an excellent account of the current Afghan situation, in light of Pakistani and American influences and interests. Tariq Ali's own personality drips through this book, with his political activism evident through anecdotes, and accounts of his own life and experiences. These touches humanise the book, however this would not be to everyone's taste. Ali seems to be a "like it or lump it" kind of guy, and it is this unforgiving attitude that makes this book stand out, and be demanded to be read. Highly recommended.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I heartily recommend this book to everyone for the light it sheds on the relationship between the West and Pakistan. Ali's style is very accessible and his affection for the Pakistani people if not their inveterately corrupt leaders is clear. Detailing the reasons for the birth of Pakistan from British India - essentially the fears of Indian Muslems that they would not have any jobs or influence in the independent India, Ali goes on to explain the reasons for the numerous military dictatorships in Pakistan and the Pakistani military's embrace of the new imperial power in the region, the US. The duel is now, as it always has been, between the ordinary people and their corrupt, parasitical ruling class, which, with the support of the US has armed and funded militant Islam to the hilt to keep itself in power. The way that this impacted on Cold War politics eg the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is well covered.
Also the tragic splitting of East and West Pakistan, and the attendant genocidal attack on the Bengali people, about which I am ashamed to say, I knew virtually nothing, is examined and discussed.
The author knows or knew personally many of the key players in Pakistan, including Benazir Bhutto. He also has a nice sense of humor, as well as an appreciation of some of the great poets of the region which he shares with us in this most rounded and insightful analysis.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Tariq Ali's 'The Duel'
A delightful book to read if you you wish to acquaint yourself with things as they are and not as they are made out to be about what is going on in this part of the world. Read more
Published 7 months ago by N. S. Banday
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave
Tariq Ali as always speak of the politics in Pakistan and the American influence in the affairs throughout. Read more
Published on 27 May 2012 by Abc
4.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in Pakistani Politico-Miltiary History
The author himself is extremely knowledgable about the region and I have read some of his other books which paint a similar necessary picture of Pakistan. Read more
Published on 6 Oct 2010 by Siphr
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good....
I rarely take the time and effort to review books publicly, however I simply had to make an exception for this ghastly diatribe churned out by Mr Ali. Read more
Published on 4 Aug 2010 by AK
4.0 out of 5 stars Tariq Ali
A good analysis but a bit short and seemed to have written with wsteren audiances , which to some extent is understandable. Read more
Published on 2 Aug 2010 by Hassan
1.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in self-publicity
I am a pakistani and I feel that Tariq Ali has only one axe to grind in his life and that is take the liberties that he enjoys in the West for granted but at the same time harping... Read more
Published on 12 Jun 2010 by Imran Alam
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant political insight on the subject
A must read book for any one interested in the future of Pakistan or for that matter the south asian/SAARC countries.Do not go on the writer's sometimes negative reputation. Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2009 by S. Hasan
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Tariq Ali 'like it or lump it' painfully honest approach
A historical account of the former Sub Continent focusing on post independence. Good point of reference for facts and dates with many facts contradicting what some folklore will... Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2009 by T. Mohammed
5.0 out of 5 stars Every country should have their own Tariq Ali
This is a brilliantly written account of Pakistans history with particular emphasis on their relationship with the United States. Read more
Published on 14 Nov 2008 by S Wood
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