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The Way of the Pathans Hardcover – May 24, 1973


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2nd edition (May 24, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0196360994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0196360997
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,984,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Highly readable. Insightful.
The reference to Rudyard Kiplings "Ballad of the East and West" is appropriate, because most people know the phrase "East is East and West is West...." but hardly anyone knows that this is just one line from this ballad about the gallantry of the Pashtun.
The book title refers to "Pukhtunwali", the way of the Pathans, and from the point of view of this Pashtun, the author treats the subject with exceptional empathy and understanding. For lay readers I would also suggest "The Pathans" by Olaf Caroe, who deals with the subject with greater inside information, having been the last British Governor of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
The Pashtuns live in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. World events and super power interests have prevented them from uniting. These same people played a MAJOR role in the demise of the Soviet Union.
The US supplied them Stinger missiles, the Pashtun gave up their lives. The combination brought the USSR to its economic knees. But like Kiplings' Ballad, few know about this "fateful pebble".
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By wj2007 on August 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James W. Spain's "The Way Of The Pathans" is a thoroughly enjoyable little book capturing the lifestyle of the Pashtun (aka Pathan) peoples of northwest Pakistan and southeast Afghanistan during the 1950s and early 1960s. At the time (and probably still today) the Pashtuns constituted the largest tribal society in the world. When, over the past thirty-five years, news reports mentioned Pakistan's northwestern tribes (in the context of first the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, later the Taliban, and more recently the American invasion of Afghanistan), the stories concerned the Pashtuns.

The author was a distinguished US diplomat (cf. his biography on Wikipedia). He lived in the region for several years. He had both the appropriate scholarly credentials (a Ph. D. from Columbia) and the requisite personal experiences. He did his homework reading the available literature and traveling through much of the area. Repeatedly he illustrates his account with references to such popular items as Kipling's stories and poems. Spain treats his subject with both sympathy and critical distance.

The book is an excellent picture of life in that region in the fifteen years after the departure of the British and the partition of colonial India. Some of the events that he describes reflect survivals from the departed British (e.g., silver tea services, officers dress messes, and British trained military and civil elites). Spain manages to condense a great deal of information into this slim volume. In addition to describing the landscape itself, the Pashtun people, their tribal social structures, their interactions with government officials, and Spain's own experiences, the book is filled with numerous stories and anecdotes.
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By myra on February 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a most interesting book. The author was graphic and knowledgeable of the Pathans who are little known to the world. He explains the tribal society in which they live, including the code of honor they must abide. For anyone following politics in Pakistan it is a must read. I like it so much, will read it again the future.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The represented view of the author displays a patwah usually reserved for Latif Khan. Consequently, this is a superb peice and a great insight to many kimbo nam, humana humana.
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