From Publishers Weekly
Journalist Schmidle offers a gripping, grim account of his two years as a journalism fellow in Pakistan, where his travels took him into the most isolated and unfriendly provinces, and into the thick of interests and beliefs that impede that nation's peace and progress. The author reports on the murky relationship between the Pakistani intelligence agencies and the Taliban and how American bombings have actually helped the Taliban gain influence in the border regions. While Schmidle amplifies the danger an unstable Pakistan poses to its neighbors and the world, he also turns a constructively critical eye back to American support of mujahideen during the Afghan war against the Soviets and shows how American intervention was both a help and an exacerbation of problems between Pakistan and Afghanistan. As a witness to Musharraf's last days in power and the rage that followed Bhutto's assassination, Schmidle has, with this effort, established himself as a fresh, eloquent and informed contributor to the ongoing dialogue regarding Pakistan, terrorism and the strategic importance of engaging Central Asia in efforts toward peace and stability. (May)
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In 2006, wanting to become a journalist but lacking any journalistic experience, Schmidle decided he would go to Iran, but political upheaval there nixed that plan, so he chose Pakistan instead. After hurriedly gathering background, he spent two years in the country, exploring its past and present, living among its people, writing about them. The book is a fascinating account of his years in Pakistan, where on any given day he could be spending time in a Taliban training camp, interviewing a Shi’a preacher, or meeting a political leader. Schmidle explores the country’s short but turbulent history (Pakistan, both the word and the country, is less than a century old), showing it to us from the perspective of someone who came to the country ill-prepared for what he would find. He eventually learns to love the country and its people, but the memory of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, is never too far from Schmidle’s mind, or from the reader’s. This is really the story of the two Pakistans the author discovered: one beautiful and friendly, the other frightening and deadly. --David Pitt