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The Pakistan Cauldron: Conspiracy, Assassination & Instability Hardcover – October, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"James Farwell has produced a highly readable and balanced account of contemporary Pakistan's tortuous journey toward its current troubled status. I would recommend this book as a guide for any policymaker or commentator seeking a rapid understanding of Pakistan...."
-- Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6

"An engrossing account of Pakistan's fractured history that exposes the faults and foibles of its leaders as they attempted to cling to or gain power...."
-- Shuja Nawaz, director of the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center and author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within

"A must-read. Few understand how strategic communication works in Pakistan better than James Farwell."
-- Lt. Gen. Dell L. Dailey, USA (Ret.), former director, Center for Special Operations, U.S. Special Operations Command; former ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism, State Department


"This is a powerful story of tragedy, avarice, power, corruption, deceit, incompetence, treachery, sabotage, and insurgency..."
-- Maj. Gen. David J. Scott, USAF (Ret.), former deputy director, Center for Special Operations, U.S. Special Operations Command


"James Farwell has undertaken original research and considered evidence from a novel perspective to develop insights and explain issues in a refreshingly interesting way..."
-- Colonel Stephen Padgett OBE, Commander British Forces Afghanistan and British Defence Attaché in Kabul 2005-2006

"The military professional should read this book..."—Lester W. Grau, Military Review
(Lester W. Grau)

"Many have written about Pakistan but no one before has talked about the critical impact of strategic communication on policy. ‘The Pakistan Cauldron’ is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the delicate relationship between Pakistan and the United States."—Mark A. Siegel, partner, Locke Lord Strategies, L.P.
(Mark A. Siegel)

“James Farwell has undertaken original research and considered evidence from a novel perspective to develop insights and explain issues in a refreshingly interesting way. His views and conclusions are not constrained by received wisdom or conventional thinking. The intellectual rigour and level-headed analysis with which he tackles this complex project is fascinating and has produced an informative book. One does not have to agree with all he writes to find this work engaging, stimulating and a valuable contribution to our understanding of the region, the important players, influences and resulting challenges. A recommended read. If you want to understand Pakistan, read this book.”—Col Stephen Padgett Obe, Commander British Forces Afghanistan and British Defence Attaché in Kabul 2005-2006
(Col Stephen Padgett Obe)

"James Farwell has produced a highly readable and balanced account of contemporary Pakistan's tortuous journey toward its current troubled status. I would recommend this book as a guide for any policymaker or commentator seeking a rapid understanding of Pakistan. All the basics, and much more, can be found here to unlock the Pakistani enigma."—Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6
(Sir Richard Dearlove)

"An engrossing account of Pakistan's fractured history that exposes the faults and foibles of its leaders as they attempted to cling to or gain power. None has succeeded in giving the country the sustainable leadership it deserves. Pakistan remains, as a result, on the edge of a political precipice."—Shuja Nawaz, director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within
(Shuja Nawaz)

"James Farwell writes on Pakistan with indefatigable passion. He unravels the mysteries surrounding recent turmoil and upheaval in a country that simply refuses to give up despite the stark challenges it faces. For all those interested in the power of 'strategic communication' and how it influences politics and policy, The Pakistan Cauldron is a high-speed car chase through this newly recognized, yet ancient, political art."—Maajid Nawaz, founder and executive director, Quillium Foundation
(Maajid Nawaz)

About the Author

James P. Farwell is an expert in strategic communication who has advised the Department of Defense, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Strategic Command on the Middle East, Africa, and Pakistan. He has written commentaries for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Middle East Institute, the National Interest, IO Journal, and Defence IQ. A graduate of Tulane and the University of Cambridge, England, he is also an attorney and a political consultant who has worked nationally and internationally at the presidential level. He is a senior research scholar in strategic studies at the Munk School, Center for Global Security, University of Toronto.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books (October 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597979821
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597979825
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,778,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want a quick, analytical look at Pakistan's recent machination-filled political history, this is your book. A fairly easy read (264 pages of text) even though JPF covers the subject matter from the perspective of a wonkish international political strategist. The events covered include the case of A. Q. Khan, the celebrated father of Pakistan's atom bomb but also infamous dealer in nuclear technology and material who so embarrassed political leaders like Musharraf that he was placed under house arrest; the short, doomed presidency of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (father of Benazir Bhutto) executed at the hands of militant islamist General Zia who himself died (fortunately for Pakistan) soon after in a helicopter crash; the rise and fall of General Musharraf; the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, likely at the hands of the Taliban or Al Qaeda; and finally the current regime led (surprisingly well) by Benazir's husband Zardari. Underlying all these events was the ever constant internal turmoil of a nation divided by competing religious sects (Sunni and Shiites), secularists and islamist militants (Taliban and Al Qaeda), scheming civilian and military leaders, and a perpetual paranoiac feud with India. JPF paints a picture of a dysfunctional culture that is too easily swayed by conspiracy theories and disinformation, but that, in the end, offers hope because a solid majority favors secular democracy and rejects extremist islamism. Much of JPF's analysis applies his area of expertise which is examining how the various actors used or failed to use "strategic communications" (an euphemism in my view for "spin") to influence public political perceptions in dealing with situations and crises that they faced.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good book - it is more in depth on Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf than on A.Q. Khan (who gets a scant 30 pages of text). Conspiracy theories abound in Pakistan, and while Farwell's book cannot put them all to rest (he makes no pretense to doing so), at least his book gives an informative perspective and context by which to evaluate the political struggle of Pakistan. He does not overly condemn nor praise Bhutto or her rival Musharraf, but shows some of their real strengths and limitations. There is some information also on Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's surviving widower and President of Pakistan. For those interested in the politics and history of Pakistan, this book will shed some (if not definitive) vital light, and is recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
James' Farwell's equal ease in the worlds of international affairs and strategic communications is on full display in The Pakistan Cauldron--much to the benefit of its readers. His take on the political dynamics of recent Pakistani history, as seen through the communication strategist's lens, shows vividly the powerful role played by perception and persuasion in all political arenas--not only in the U.S. where spin is king, but also elsewhere. Woe be to the U.S. policy maker, or the rest of us affected by their decisions, who fails to understand the communication calculations at work in Pakistan. Farwell's analysis includes a survey of the reactions to bin Laden's killing, laying the basis for his smart caution that the U.S. must do a better job of understanding and engaging this important, complex country.

As an extra bonus, Farwell's attention to the intended and unintended messaging of Pakistan's political elite makes for engaging, entertaining reading. Who else has so carefully noted Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's fashion savvy: "He [was] equally at ease attired in expensive suits strutting about foreign capitals and in the awami (people's) shirt and Jinnah cap haranguing people ...."? Or has thought to capture Benazir Bhutto's passionate approach to life through her love of Baskin Robbins ice cream?
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Format: Hardcover
The Pakistan Cauldron: Conspiracy, Assassination and Instability (Potomac Books)by James Farwell really explains the convoluted political culture of conspiracy. For the first time, I began to understand the underpinnings of the U.S./Pakistan relationship. The book explains the post bin Laden era by examining its past leaders, A.O. Kahn, the "rock star" popular engineer of Pakistan's nuclear program; Pervez Musharraf, the general turned politician, who skillfully deflected criticism from the secretive military in regard to nuclear proliferation; and Benazir Bhutto, the charismatic politician, whose promise for a stable enlightened country was cut short by assassination.

These leaders, despite their differences, put Pakistan first, a fact misjudged by the American perception of Pakistan as a strategic ally. Farwell shows the dynamic of the U.S. Pakistani relationship, within the context of a political culture that breeds conspiracy theory, assassination, and a sense of betrayal. And he shows how that relationship has fared in fighting terrorism, al Qaeda and the Taliban. This is the only place that explains the difference between domestic and foreign Taliban and why Pakistan might care. He also shows how our objectives would be met or not, depending on the results of Pakistan's volatile political process.

I especially enjoyed the portrait of Benazir Bhutto as a champion for the democratic process and religious tolerance. Musharraf, her competitor, mishandled the aftermath of her assassination creating an autocrat's "playbook" for blunders in a time of crisis. This is a great story of intrigue told with high drama and wit.
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