Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, but highly entertaining read, March 4, 2007
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This review is from: In the Line of Fire: A Memoir (Hardcover)
In the Line of Fire is the most self-congratulatory, self-serving and arrogant books I've read in a long time, but what some people don't seem to grasp is that these reasons are what makes the book so entertaining to read. Of course the leader of a country that took power by military coup is going to produce a fictional auto-biography, but to complain about it so much misses the point. Know that you're getting a very specific version of the "truth" when you pick this book up, but at the sime time you're also getting a suspense filled page turner because you have no idea what he's going to say next.

Musharraf likens his own personal history to that of Pakistan's history as a nation, even going so far as to include commentary on the back cover that "the entire world depends upon him to succeed." While this a bit of a stretch to say the least, his story is entertaining. The complete random nature of much of the book can be frustrating for some, but it means never having to get bogged down in the details. The sections on his childhood are particularly entertaining, but the best part of the book by far is the story of how he came to power. According to Musharraf, he didn't come to power through a military coup. The Prime Minister in power in 1999 who was trying to get rid of Musharraf was the one responsible for the coup. Musharraf and the army carried out a "counter-coup" for the sake of the nation. Classic.

You may find yourself wondering why Musharraf wrote this book and who his intended audience was. This book was clearly meant for Americans. It wasn't written for his own country, and narcissism aside, for himself either. This book was written to convince Americans unsure of whether Musharraf is a "good guy" or "bad guy" that he is indeed on our side. He tries so hard to appear as America's friend in the book that it almost becomes painful at times. His desire to cultivate this image trumps the overal quality of the book because by the end, he's merely tacking on three or four page chapters on things like the emancipation of women or the "soft" image of Pakistan. The supreme irony here is that if enough of his opponents in Pakistan actually read this book, they might be able to muster enough support to overthrow Musharraf. This is the exact opposite image that he needs to present at home in order to stay in power.

Something else important to keep in mind is that Musharraf has the most unenviable job in the entire world. He has reactionary religious extremists at home that want to overthrow him on one hand, and the U.S. threatening to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age on the other. He's caught in a very tight spot with practically no room to maneuver. That he's been able to stay alive and in power for so long is truly remarkable. It's hard for me at least to be so critical of someone in that position.
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Location: Baltimore, MD

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