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Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan [Kindle Edition]

M.J. Akbar
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Among many recent books on Pakistan, Mr. Akbar’s stands out….A fine and detailed history of Indian Muslim anger and insecurity.”
The Economist

In Tinderbox, India’s leading journalist delivers a fascinating narrative history of Pakistan, chronicling the conflict between Muslim and Hindu cultures in South Asia and describing the role that their relationship has played in defining both the country and the region. Editorial director of India Today and editor of the Sunday Guardian, M. J. Akbar gives readers an unprecedented look at Pakistan past and present. Panoramic in scope but specific in detail, with rich portraits of the central figures and events that have defined the nation’s history, Ackbar’s Tinderbox tells the Pakistanian story from the Middle Ages to the present, puts the Taliban and its place within modern Islam into a meaningful context, and diagnoses where the country is headed in the 21st century.



Editorial Reviews

Review

Historically grounded, informative. --(Publishers Weekly )

A lively read. . . . Among many recent books on Pakistan, Mr. Akbar s stands out . . . it is a fine and detailed history of Indian Muslim anger and insecurity, spawned by the 18th-century decline of the Mughals, and the way this played out in the freedom struggle. --(The Economist )

Akbar s elegant, probing work exhibits a sympathetic insider s understanding of the complex, evolving relationship between Muslims and Hindus in the area. . . . Presents a thoughtful historical perspective, rich in detail, research and gloom. --Kirkus Reviews

Review

“Historically grounded, informative.” (Publishers Weekly )

“A lively read. . . . Among many recent books on Pakistan, Mr. Akbar’s stands out . . . it is a fine and detailed history of Indian Muslim anger and insecurity, spawned by the 18th-century decline of the Mughals, and the way this played out in the freedom struggle.” (The Economist )

“Akbar’s elegant, probing work exhibits a sympathetic insider’s understanding of the complex, evolving relationship between Muslims and Hindus in the area. . . . Presents a thoughtful historical perspective, rich in detail, research and gloom.” (Kirkus Reviews )

Product Details

  • File Size: 599 KB
  • Print Length: 403 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062131796
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (June 26, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006SJOH2E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,444 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A historical account of the Indian Muslims' angst March 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover
This book is an investigation into the idea and creation of Pakistan as a separate state from India for Indian Muslims. The author looks into the historical roots of this idea and what it holds for Pakistan's future.
M.J.Akbar, the author, identifies a 'theory of distance' amongst the Muslim elite in India in the 18th century onwards. This theory holds that Hindus and Muslims are different people and that Muslim interests and way of life in India can only be secured by Muslims living as a separate 'nation'. Interestingly, this idea was propounded not by the Deoband Dar-ul-Uloom, the primary clergy of south Asia but by the Muslim educated elite. The reasons for this primarily were the sharp decline of Mughal power in India under the British from the 18th century onwards and the consequent rise in British India of Hindus, who embraced the English language and modernity through education in western science and values. The Muslim elite conversely stayed mostly away from English and modern education as something 'foreign and despicable'. Additionally, the decline of the Ottoman empire in Europe also contributed to the feeling amongst the Muslim elite of the erosion of power and influence. The author says that this idea of a separate nationhood has always been there in Indian Muslims since the 18th century. Then it means that it is not something new or something that happened due to the differences between the Congress party and the Muslim League in the mid 20th century or due to the purported indifference towards Jinnah shown by Nehru or other Congress leaders. Further, the author says that the Muslim League never really believed or internalised the non-violent approach of Gandhi as they only paid lip-service to the Gandhian idea of Ahimsa as a need to co-operate with the Congress party.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating February 13, 2011
Format:Hardcover
Mr. M. J. Akbar, an experienced journalist, sets out to trace and analyse the process of partition of South Asia into two warring countries: India and Pakistan. For this he begins not with the arrival of the British, and their `divide and rule' policy, as is the convention. He goes back to Emperor Akbar's reign, who first actively sought to create a syncretic nation, bringing Muslims and Hindus together. The clerical reactions to this, and the theory of distance that these reactions spawned, apparently bore fruit 500 years later in the bloody partition of the sub-continent.

Mr. Akbar's thesis is fascinating and despite containing a heavy dose of research and analysis, reads well, given Mr. Akbar's journalistic credentials. He completely demolishes the theory that the British were the cause of the partition - their role appears to be similar to that of Pontius Pilate who washed his hands off the crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ. Refreshingly, he also examines Mahatma Gandhi's actions and thoughts with a sincere honesty, as an Indian, rather than as a Muslim or a Hindu. He also lends considerable weight to the new argument that Mr. Jinnah was a reluctant Pakistani, and not the primary cause of partition. It would be great if this book sparks a fresh debate into the causes of partition, and the lessons that we need to draw from it.

The book has been criticised for its failure to talk about the future of Pakistan. This is fair, if we assume that the book was expected to devote an equal amount of space to the past and the future. But if we agree that Pakistan started forming 550 years ago, then Mr. Akbar has given proportionate attention to both sides of the timeline. In any case, Mr. Akbar is a journalist, not a seer.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivetting stuff February 12, 2011
Format:Hardcover
Recommended reading for sure, the title belies the scope of the research. This is gripping stuff capturing a strain of history about the rise of Islam in the Indian subcontinent culminating in the recent past with a bleak outlook of the future of Pakistan. Whats remarkable is the length of the book is remarkably short for the scale of events captured.
The book begins by capturing the roots of Muslim discontent and oddly its traced back to the sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah ( a Shia). Shah Waliullah and his more notable disciples instilled the seeds of a jihadist movement which flickered on and off (and is currently a raging inferno). The British drove the last nail on the Mughal coffin and earned the wrath of the jihadist movement. Typically they responded by playing the Hindus (who were in a majority) against the Muslims right unto 1857 when the last Mughal emperor was forced into exile and hence feeding into a vicious cycle of suspicion between the two communities. The script changed when the British went along with a modernist thread of Muslim led by Syed Ahmed Khan and this thread carried to culmination the idea of a Pakistani nation. The narrative captures the Indian Freedom struggle from the viewpoint of the key Muslim players and there are moments when you are awestruck at how close the history of South Asia may have been radically different from the nuclear precipice whose edge we teeter on. Gandhi's letting go of the Khilafat movement , the Congress rejection of overtures from the Muslim league, Jinnah's outsized ego (though remarkably during the earlier part of the freedom struggle he outshone much of the Congress in his sagacity and vision of a united India) drove a permanent wedge between the two communities. Partition was inevitable by the late 1930s much to the dismay of Gandhi.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Would have liked to have seen a few chapters devoted to where ...
Interesting analysis more of the past than the future. Would have liked to have seen a few chapters devoted to where from now. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jayant Yardi
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it. I share his love for an India ...
Akbar's writing is captivating. I loved it. I share his love for an India which accepts diversity with pride. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tari
1.0 out of 5 stars MJ Akbar is the last person to write an unbiased book about Pakistan....
If you want to read a completely biased book about and against Pakistan, then spend your money and read it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by LoneTree
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read!!
A wonderful narrative of Muslims history in India and Pakistan. The facts are presented in unbiased manner and supported by reliable references. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ashutosh
3.0 out of 5 stars Unbiased Story.
It tells the story in an unbiased way.It tells the detailed politics of the period. It helps to understand the psychology of Fundamentalists in both the communities.
Published 15 months ago by Shyam Trivedi
4.0 out of 5 stars One good section, two okay parts, and several instances of selective...
Short review: MJ Akbar displays an impressive grasp of history, that blends into a fast-paced account of world events that intersect with the march of the Indian subcontinent to... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Abhinav Agarwal
4.0 out of 5 stars nice and easy read
the book is a bit high on hyperbole and generalisations but the conclusions/summaries drawn are borne by facts and history. Read more
Published 23 months ago by harjeet
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! So deeply researched
I learnt so many new things about India's recent history. The book is very well researched and exceedingly well written.
Published on April 10, 2013 by Amit Singh
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!!!
I purchased Tinderbox by MJ Akbar hoping to get a better idea of how the idea of Pakistan, that is, a Muslim state carved out of India, came to be and why this country is such a... Read more
Published on September 11, 2012 by lmlm000
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced review
M.J. Akbar's Tinderbox the past and future of Pakistan, is a balanced review of the accounts that lead to the creation of Pakistan and its future. Read more
Published on August 3, 2012 by Udaya Yanamandra
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More About the Author

M. J. Akbar is the editorial director of India Today and Headlines Today and editor of the Sunday Guardian. He is also an internationally published columnist and has authored several books, including India: The Siege Within: Challenges to a Nation's Unity, Nehru: The Making of India, Riot after Riot, Kashmir: Behind the Vale, The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity, Byline, and Blood Brothers. Tinderbox is his first book to be published in the United States. He lives in Delhi.

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