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Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding Hardcover – November 5, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610393171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610393171
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mistrust and cross-purposes characterize relations between Pakistan and the U.S., writes Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S from 2008 to 2011 and now a Boston University professor, in this insightful if disturbing history. During the bloodshed of 1947, India's forces drove Pakistan from Kashmir, a Muslim majority region that, theoretically, belonged to Muslim Pakistan. Obsession over Kashmir's loss persists, creating a virtual permanent war with India; civil government remains subservient to the military, which absorbs most of Pakistan's revenue, leaving little for economic development. Pakistani leaders quickly requested U.S aid, trumpeting their anticommunism. America responded modestly but generously after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and massively after 9/11. Pakistan spends the bulk of its resources facing India—American leaders accept this as the price of cooperation but gnash their teeth over Pakistan's tepid enthusiasm for our war on terror. Pakistan's generals have no love for al-Qaeda but have long supported the Afghan Taliban and would prefer them to the present government. Making it clear why he is persona non grata in his homeland, Haqqani concludes that military aid has undermined Pakistan's democracy, converting it into a rentier state living off American money rather than its people's productivity. Agent: the Wylie Agency. (Nov.)

Review

Declan Walsh, New York Times
“Patriotism, lies and wrenching disappointment are the interweaving coils of “Magnificent Delusions,” a sweeping survey of the tumultuous relations between Washington and Islamabad since Pakistan’s founding in 1947. Since the American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, the alliance between the two countries has been sickly, with a racing pulse but little heart. Mr. Haqqani’s scholarly history suggests that the condition is genetic, rooted in the very DNA of their relationship.”

Mark Moyer, Wall Street Journal
“[Haqqani’s] purpose isn't to narrate his service as ambassador or score political points but to outline the contours of American relations with Pakistan over time, with a final chapter depicting the 2011 collapse as a new instance of historical trends. While one might desire a fuller accounting of his ambassadorship, the book covers its chosen ground superbly.”

Richard Leiby, Washington Post
“A solid synthesis of history, political analysis and social critique."

Kapil Komireddi, Daily Beast
"The most clear-eyed history of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship yet published...Not only should Haqqani’s book be read by everyone with an interest in Pakistan; it ought be compulsory reading for members of Congress and officials at the State Department."

Michael Kugelman, Foreign Policy
"Impeccably researched, with an overwhelming reliance on primary sources -- thereby making its often controversial findings impossible to dispute. The book's tone is strikingly restrained, subjective yet never polemical. This is admirable, given that its author's public service career has been damaged, if not destroyed, by the toxic nature of his subject."

Financial Times
“Explains from the inside how successive Islamabad governments have demanded money and weapons from Washington while simultaneously promoting Islamic extremism to the detriment of both the US and Pakistan.”

Lisa Curtis, National Interest
“If you want a better understanding of why U.S. policy has failed so miserably in Pakistan, you should read Husain Haqqani’s latest book… Fast-paced and highly readable… Haqqani has provided a well-documented and interesting account of the policy disconnects between the United States and Pakistan. His book should make a tremendous contribution toward grounding U.S. policy toward Pakistan in more realistic assumptions that will help avoid future crises between the two countries.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
"The questions Haqqani answers in this book—among them, Why do Pakistan and the United States perpetually careen from one crisis to another?—should make it indispensable reading for U.S. Presidents and secretaries of state.”

Kirkus Reviews, *starred* review
“[An] insightful, painful history of Pakistani-American relations… Demonstrating no mercy to either party, Haqqani admits that Pakistan verges on failed-state status but shows little patience with America’s persistently shortsighted, fruitless policies.”

Library Journal
“Haqqani uses his wealth of personal experience to present a detailed account of the genesis and evolution of U.S.-Pakistani relations over the last 60 years… The book is a useful resource for academics, journalists, and policymakers at all levels.”

Publishers Weekly
“Insightful if disturbing... Making it clear why he is persona non grata in his homeland, Haqqani concludes that military aid has undermined Pakistan’s democracy, converting it into a rentier state living off American money rather than its people’s productivity.”

Asian Age
“The book is part memoir, part searing indictment of Pakistan’s flawed strategy of using jihadis to secure its strategic space… [Haqqani proves] himself to be a diligent and tireless researcher who backs up almost every stinging commentary on Pakistan’s journey since independence to the present day, with fact.”

Madeleine Albright
Magnificent Delusions provides a fascinating insider’s account of America’s important but troubled relationship with Pakistan. Ambassador Haqqani’s purpose is not to fix blame, but to explain how two countries that have for 60 years described themselves as allies can nevertheless misunderstand each other thoroughly and repeatedly. Richly-detailed, this skillfully written narrative will enlighten scholars, entrance average readers, and give future diplomats much to contemplate. It is a timely, valuable and objective book.”

Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute
"This is a must-read book for anyone who seeks to understand geopolitics in the 21st century. Husain Haqqani provides a riveting insider's account of the complex, and critically important relationship between America and Pakistan. He knows both countries well, and his personal insights and objective analysis can help dispel the misunderstandings that are so dangerous."

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A good start on our part would be to read this book!
Robert V. Rose
In his latest book, Haqqani gives a detailed and objective explanation of the growth and development of the complex and important relationship between US and Pakistan.
Hissan H
This is a very good book written in fast passed style and to the point.
Pradip Khaladkar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J on October 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book contains great insight from an insider and scholar on the true nature and historical failings of the US-Pakistan relationship. Ambassador Haqqani does not pull any punches when it comes to who and what is responsible for this turbulent relationship on both sides. It is remarkably honest, and frankly brave as well. Ambassador Haqqani suffered a lot of criticism, the political firestorm that saw him out of the office of Ambassador, and even death threats for refusing to mince words and step in line with the powers that be and their political agendas, be it in his first book, his Ambassadorship, or now in this book.

That being said, this book is also a breath of fresh air among the other books on US-Pakistan politics. The book is easy to read, while still going deep in its analysis, well organized, and interspersed with the Ambassador's typical sense of humor, as he compares the US-Pakistan relationship to a loveless marriage. You won't get bored reading this book.

Why are you still reading this, buy it already!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Khalid Ahmad Khan on December 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was surprised by this book - it wasn't a 'my side of the story' book to explain the 'memogate' episode. Haqqani has really done justice to the title 'Magnificent Delusions' because nothing can encapsulate the relationship between Pakistan and USA then these two words. What really amazed me was that the flawed start to this relationship went all the way back to the birth of Pakistan. A lot of what he has written is uncomfortable reading for decision makers and the public both in the US and Pakistan. For me this is not a book that is selling an opinion - its a book to make you think. And it about time for both sides to take a pause and think what is going to be the basis of relationship between Pakistan and the USA in the future.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Seth Oldmixon on November 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fundamental requirement of effective foreign policy is cultural competency: The ability to communicate in a way that meaning is not distorted when messages are translated across worldviews and political contexts. When communications are not assessed within the contexts from which they emerge, confusion can result. When one or both sides hears what they want to hear, however, it is not confusion, but delusion that results. As an advisor to two Prime Ministers and Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, Husain Haqqani saw first hand the dysfunction that can seep into international relations when one or both sides bases their foreign policy in delusion.

Husain Haqqani's first-hand experience in US-Pakistan relations notwithstanding, "Magnificent Delusions" is not a memoir, but a case study. Haqqani begins his examination of US-Pakistan relations before Pakistan's independence in 1947, and details a history of both sides hearing what they wanted to hear while ignoring the global and domestic political contexts in which events were unfolding.

Neither is the book a polemic against the US or Pakistan. From Secretary of State Dulles overlooking the eerily prescient observations of Ambassador Langley in the late 1950s to Pakistan's misunderstanding of the limits of US obligations in bilateral security agreements, Haqqani details a history in which both countries have developed foreign policy around a set of wishful assumptions rather than contextual analysis.

"Magnificent Delusions" serves as a point of reorientation for US-Pakistan relations, but it also provides an important case study to guide the development of other relationships as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hissan H on October 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In this day and age there is no better expert on US-Pakistan diplomatic relations that Husain Haqqani, ambassador of Pakistan from 2008-2011. In his latest book, Haqqani gives a detailed and objective explanation of the growth and development of the complex and important relationship between US and Pakistan. The book is indeed very insightful and further clarifies the brewing mistrust between the two countries. A must own for all students/academics, journalists and policy makers.
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Format: Hardcover
Interesting book and I am sure would be particularly an interesting insight for diplomats, policy wonks and academics. But it wasn’t the book I thought it was when I purchased it. I saw the author on Charlie Rose and was fascinated by what he had to say about the forces (overwhelmingly) for and against an Islamic Pakistani state. So I was eager to follow-up with the book for in-depth coverage of the Pakistani national consciousness, which again is overwhelmingly defined and dominated by the desire to create an Islamic state, which is also the vision of the founding fathers, namely Muhammad Ali Jinnah and co.

In addition to being a born and bred Pakistani, a diplomat and an academic, the authors’ inside view of the Pakistani state makes him uniquely qualified to write about Pakistan. I am looking forward to reading about the inside forces in Pakistani, not so much its relations with America. Sure, I knew I was purchasing a book about Pakistan/US relations, but I assumed there would be some substantial coverage of the domestic forces for and against creating an Islamic state and how such an internal struggle shapes Pakistan’s foreign policy with the world and America. For those of us without deep knowledge of Pakistan, such a book would lay a foundation within which to understand Pakistan, including its foreign policy.

Overall though, still a fascinating book and a credible author, who wants the best for his native land, The United States and the world.
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