Pakistan: A Hard Country Paperback – 23 Feb 2012
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
The book would also have been more enjoyable if amazon paid taxes properly in the UK.
The insight given into the people and places as well as the culture was in depth. Here was Pakistan in all its glory though it was tarnished but you came away from the book routing for it and this was due to the author. The author didn't pull any punches but underpinning all the narrative was his genuine love and concern for the country with none of the sneering associated with western authors.
Thank you for writing this book
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...Read more ›
(The 2012 paperback edition also includes a brief afterword covering the killing of Bin Laden and its effects on US-Pakistani relations).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good read ..... Anatol Lieven has got it right, how society works in Pakistan.
Students of social sciences shall find wealth of knowledge for their subjects. Read more
Really good on Pakistan - a great read for anyone who needs to understand this country ..and even includes relative praise for Sharia lawPublished 7 months ago by C. S. D. Robertson
His account is like that of a person who has actually lived their and presents an accurate picture of a complicated countryPublished 8 months ago by K Saeed
this is a great introduction to pakistans demography,religion and regional differences.it ponders the role of the military,judges,lawyer,police. Read morePublished 12 months ago by m. dosa
Covers the subject from all angles, written with great insight. Very relevant read in today's world. Anything but dry with numerous humorous episodes and personal encounters.Published 16 months ago by katya belaia
Very highly rated , in its objectivity , depth of analysis, unadorned prose style and language..
An author who knows his subject and communicates it with skill and clarity.
A indepth and eye opening review to the layers of subtlety in a country often slated in black and white terms in the press.Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
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