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Pakistan: The Eye of the Storm 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300097603
ISBN-10: 0300097603
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Yale, which presciently gave us Taliban, by Ahmed Rashid, now brings out a study of another crucial country in Central and South Asia. Former BBC correspondent Jones looks at the battle with India over Kashmir ("the single most significant reason for Pakistan's chronic instability") and argues that most Pakistanis want to live in a free and tolerant state, not a theocracy. He considers the future of General Pervez Musharraf's attempt to undo the "Islamization" initiated by his predecessor, General Mohammed Zia ul Haq. Illus.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Pakistan emerges here as a nation divided religiously, ethnically, politically, and geopolitically. This thematic study of its 55-year history moves from the roots struck by founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League at the time of independence in 1947 to its current leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Along the way, Jones treats the bomb and India, the Kashmir dispute, the nation's ethnic and political divisions, its three wars with India, and its changing role from Taliban supporter to antagonist. Jones lived in Pakistan from 1998 to 2001 as a BBC correspondent and draws from his experiences to craft a well-written, insightful, and critical journalistic history. He concludes that even barring Musharraf's assassination, little realistic hope can be awarded Pakistan's future, given the depth of the society's social, religious, and political divisions. Highly recommended.
John F. Riddick. Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mount Pleasant
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (August 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300097603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300097603
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought this book some three years ago and took it on a trip, finishing it over six days. The book is written very well, and journalist in Owen Bennet Jones certainly needs to be commended.

Jones starts the book with President Musharraf, and moves back to the 1999 coup which installed him. He then picks up some of the key issues which drive Pakistan's foreign policy: Kashmir, The Bomb, The Army, among others. His writing syle is such that you immediately fall in with him and start thinking alongside. This makes the book an easy read. His style leans more towards description than analysis. Though the analysis is there, it is more journalistic than professorial (such as Stephen Cohen's: The Idea of Pakistan). There are also some good illustrations and cartoons.

However, he also leaves out important aspects of Pakistan (this is perhaps justified considering the title of the book). For instance, the entire book is written from the perspective of an outsider or a diplomat who would like to deal the Pakistan state. There is little analysis of Pakistan's domestic policies or problems, except to the extent that these influence its foreign policies. There is little information on Pakistan's economy or social institutions. Relatively little space has been given to Islam, which is strange considering that many of Pakistan's policies are supposed to be derived from the religious nature of the State. This is unfortunate because Pakistan's future may be determined largely by how it interfaces with Islam and how its economy shapes up.

And there are very few insights. What drives Pakistan, what holds it toegether, what may make it fail, these are all dealt with from a foreign policy perspective, but in an analytical style.
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By A Customer on October 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One of the things I began to look for after September 11 was a readable book about Pakistan. I did not have much luck. There were few books about that troubled country on bookstore shelves and the ones that were tended to be dry academic bits of prose.
That's why Owen's book is such a valuable and timely addition to the limited collection of books about Pakistan. The author spent two years there as a BBC journalist and was witness to some of the crucial events in that country's recent history. He also had access to many of the key players who make Pakistan tick.
But it's the writing style that wins me over the most. Owens does not write like an academic, but he doesn't give us a boring travelogue filled with hard to visualize first person impressions. Instead, you could argue that his book is written as a primer for people who don't know much about Pakistan. In just under three hundred pages of lively writing, he surveys all the major problems and issues facing that country. Kashmir, the atomic bomb, the 1999 coup, the role of the army in Pakistani society, it's all covered.
My only criticism is this: at one point the author implies that the Taliban was one of the mujahideen groups that fought the Russians. That is certainly not correct. The Taliban movement only formed after the Russians left Afghanistan. It had fighters from that conflict in its ranks, but the organization did not fight in the Soviet-Afghan war. A small error, but I am surprised that Ahmed Rashid, the author of a very good book about the Taliban and someone who endoresed Owen's book, did not catch and correct. So, if I could I probably would have rated this book 4.5 stars. Oh, well.
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Format: Paperback
Owen Bennet Jones was BBC's correspondent in Pakistan for three years till 2001.

His book is a wonderful way to understand Pakistan. It is not a typical chronological list of facts. It is a set of nicely grouped perspectives on the issues in Pakistan's politics: the power players - army, politicians, feudal lords; the public opinion issues - Kashmir, Bomb, Bangladesh, Muhajirs; and their impact on Pakistan so far.

The reader can pick any chapter and start with it.

It is difficult to write a book about Pakistan (or India) without leaving in the reader's mind a sense of disappointment at a biased perspective. Was partition the right thing to do? Different views may emerge based on who you ask.

It is even more difficult for a British author to keep a balanced perspective on the history of the sub-continent given the influence in his own ambience. Is Winston Churchill a wise statesman or an arrogant imperialist? Different views may emerge based on where you ask.

The author seems to have struck a fine balance between multiple views.

However, in a few instances, the author disappoints:

Pakistan does feel insecure about India's intentions. The religious divide is a thin argument since India has more Muslims than Pakistan; and they are not raring to quit India. The divide stems from a public opinion that got shaped by the shameful violence during partition; that got nurtured after the partition by the army and politicians in Pakistan as a pet hate agenda for self serving reasons. Today, no politician or general in Pakistan can take a softer friendly stand towards India and survive in Pakistan. This is true to a lesser extent for politicians in India too.
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