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The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power Hardcover – September 16, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A veteran journalist on Pakistan, Ali reviews the country’s six-decade political history critically, indicting the leadership class and its ties to the U.S. Viewing the country as in neocolonial thrall to U.S. strategic interests, Ali comments freely in a narrative that acquaints readers with the country’s main political events, from Pakistan’s creation in 1947 to its situation in the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007. The military being the dominant feature of Pakistani politics, Ali applies his caustic pen to descriptions of its leaders, particularly those in command during Pakistan’s 1971 debacle of losing what is now Bangladesh. As for civilian leaders such as Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his late daughter, Benazir, Ali regards them as corrupt and no more interested in, and certainly no more effective at, alleviating the appalling poverty and illiteracy in which most Pakistanis live. Imparting personal detail about his visits to Pakistan and interviews with political figures, Ali offers strongly argued opinions on the past, and his preferred future, of Pakistani politics. --Gilbert Taylor


"A well-informed, compelling narrative...Ali uses his own encounters with historical figures - Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto...they add an urgent, intimate layer to the narrative."-- The Guardian

"Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world...Yet most Americans don't realize how much of the Pakistani peril is our own fault. The Duel ... should be read for an understanding of, first, what role America has played in creating this dangerous mix and, second, why many Pakistanis see us as responsible for their problems."--The Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416561013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416561019
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,961,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting exploration of Pakistan's history and current problems. Tariq Ali, who first gained fame as a leftist student activist in Great Britain in the 1960's, grew up in Pakistan, the son of a leftist editor of one of Pakistan's major newspapers. With his strong connections to the elite in Pakistan he has been able to personally know some of the big shots of the country's oligarchy. He makes use of the insight such connections have given him into the dismal inner workings of Pakistani politics in this book.

He portrays Pakistan as a government controlled by a corrupt bureaucratic-military oligarchy in alliance with feudal landowners and heavily dependent on American backing. The majority of the population lives in horrendous poverty. Communicable diseases and malnutrition are rampant. The Pakistani military and intelligence services greatly assisted the Afghan mujahedeen drug running business in the 1980's. The effects on Pakistan were disastrous. According to Ali, Pakistan had only a few hundred heroin addicts in 1977 but had two million ten years later. But to adopt the view of the Western imperialists--that Pakistan is a cauldron of serious poverty, nuclear weapons and jihadists chomping at the bit--is quite wrong, Ali cautions. Islamic fanatics have terrorized Pakistan since the late 70's when General Zia, with Saudi support, began to provide them with state backing, but they represent a very small segment of Pakistani society. Pakistan has a strong secular tradition and Islamic fundamentalist parties have been never achieved much at the ballot box. Secular parties are even strong in Waziristan, supposedly the main center of jihadist agitation in Pakistan. However what could throw more Pakistanis into alliance with the jihadists, Ali warns, is substantial U.
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Format: Hardcover
The timing of the book could not have been better! For readers of Tariqs non -fictional work,the book ,its contents and the layout would come as no surprise.The depth and breadth of the work is charcteristic of Ali
with some amazing footnotes.His style of histoy telling makes the book "unputdownable".
For anyone who wants to know what has been happening in Pakistan,Afghanistan, this is almost a bottomless source of information...........highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I happened to catch an interview on TV with Tariq Ali on University of California's "Conversations with History" program. The interview caught my imagination and induced me to read this book. Right off let the reader be aware that Mr. Ali is an avowed leftist and makes no bones about it in his narration and commentary. However there is no question about the historical veracity and originality of his work.

Beginning with the partition Mr. Ali gives us a fascinating account of Pakistan's history and how the culture and peoples worked to bring about the Pakistan we know today. Herein is displayed the sorry saga of corruption, patronage gone wild, intrigue, murder and outright bungling by both the political and military factions of the country. Mr. Ali traces the march to "islamization" of the military under General Zia Ul-Haq. The seeds of greater turmoil were sown on fertile ground during General Haq's stewardship.

There were a few short years when the skies cleared and Mr. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto came to power. But alas the pattern of corruption and failed promises was not broken. Then there was the time that his daughter, Mrs. Benazir Bhutto had a golden opportunity but squandered it on the altar of timidity and corruption.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is reading Mr. Tariq Ali's commentary on the "why" question.
Why does Pakistan a nation founded on the premise of Muslim solidarity have so much internal strife?
Why were the people of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, treated so abhorrently to the point that they rebelled to quit Pakistan?
Why does the mantra that "the Hindus were behind this" fail to hold water?
Why are there no meaningful land reforms and basic education plans for a country now going on 62 years?
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Format: Hardcover
The author writes in The Guardian (London):
`They don't ban books any more, or at least not recently, which is a relief and a small step forward.' I wrote in a preface to my latest book on Pakistan [The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power] after explaining how the previous two had been, at different times, banned by military dictators. I was wrong. I had foolishly assumed that since General Musharraf had not banned books his civilian, supposedly democratic, successors would also stay the course. The Pakistani distributors of my publisher, Simon and Schuster, who had no problems selling ghost-written volumes by Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto (published by the same house), have for the last four weeks been waiting for `clearance' from the Ministry of Information (i.e. Propaganda) to import my book. The Minister, Sherry Rehman, is a former Karachi journalist.
Her public embrace of Sarah Palin notwithstanding, she had a reasonable civil liberties record, often preached the virtues of legality, political morality, civic virtues, freedom and equality. They lie now at her feet, broken and scattered shards as the Government stumbles from one crisis to another. A war on the Western frontier, a run on the banks, a disaffected public is not enough. They still have time to stop books. Did she really think that working for President Zardari meant anything else? Her friends tell me she is not responsible for the ban and is trying her best to `expedite clearance', but if not her, who? The man at the top these days is well-known as a semi-literate who has never read a whole book in his life. But there is a chain of sycophants stretching down from the Prime Minister's office to the most lowly civil servants, whose task as loyal retainers, is to second-guess and please the master.
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