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Pakistan: A Hard Country Paperback – Illustrated, March 6, 2012
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The Age, May 20, 2011
In his fine new book Pakistan. A Hard Country, Lieven argues that while the state is weak, Pakistani society is immensely strong.”
New Statesman, May 12, 2011
does much to counter lazy assumptions about the country that proliferate elsewhere"
The Spectator, May 13, 2011
His analysis of networks and systems is precise; his accounts of his travels illuminating as well as entertaining.”
The Guardian, May 1, 2011
Lieven's Pakistan: A Hard Country is one such blow for clarity and sobriety Lieven overturns many prejudices, and gives general readers plenty of fresh concepts with which to think about a routinely misrepresented country.”
The Independent, May 5, 2011
Lieven's feat lies in his remarkable, flesh-and-blood portrait of the nation, ranging across demographic swathes and including a chorus of voices from farmers to intelligence officers. The picture is one of a semi-anarchic nation mired in police savagery, institutional corruption, population bulges, water shortages and the risk of catastrophic environmental disaster following last year's floods.”
The New York Times Book Review, June 26, 2011
Ambitious a sweeping and insightful narrative.”
Newsline Magazine, June, 2011
Pakistan: A Hard Country manages to be clear-headed and realistic, a welcome respite from the scare-mongering that taints so many western accounts of Pakistan.”
The Organiser (India), June 26, 2011
This book is about the best that has been published in recent times about Pakistan.”
MoneyLife (India), June 18, 2011
Pakistan-A Hard Country is one of the most detailed accounts of a country which often seems like it is held together by chewing gum (or willpower, if you like)but what still makes it tick? Anatol Lieven knows, and it shows in this work.”
Thanks to Mr. Lieven's sound scholarship and perceptive insights in Pakistan: A Hard Country,' readers will come away with a clearer understanding of why it is such a complex, conflicted country and why it will continue to be of vital interest to the United States long after the last American soldier has come home from Afghanistan.”
Policy Review, August/September 2011
His experience as a reporter gives Lieven both the tone of an insider and a vast affection for the country, which he credits for giving him "some of the best moments" of his life. In an attempt to explain the world's sixth-most populous nation in under 600 pages, Lieven ranges widely, touching upon everything from the rise and fall of landed families in the Punjab to the sloth of the national police to the garish décor in wealthy homes. To this ambitious task the author brings both thoroughness and an impressive familiarity with his subject.”
DAWN.com, August 2, 2011
a thought-provoking and widely influential new book”
DAWN.com September 2, 2011
Lieven's is the one I would most strongly recommend to anyone wishing to learn about Pakistan . The book is shot through with sharp insights and flashes of mordant wit that make it a pleasure to read.”
The gulf between the multiple realities most Pakistanis know - and how outsiders perceive their country is wide and deep. Lieven's book is an ambitious and much-needed attempt to bridge it. The most striking thing about the book is its informed and consistently sensible tone. This tone is not heard much in discussions about Pakistan, and it is refreshing. Lieven writes in an affable, conversational voice, but not a casual one. His observations are precise and judicious.”
Financial Times, April 22, 2011
Pakistan, as Anatol Lieven explains in this thorough analysis of the internal sources of this resilience, will not disintegrate easily He deftly tackles the misperception in the west that Islamist groups might easily sweep through Pakistan.”
The Nation, April 13, 2011
This book could hardly be timelier. Lucid and well informed, he deals carefully with Pakistan's well-known problems. He raises hope, avoiding the hysteria and partial judgment that disfigure much contemporary writing on the subject. Above all, he emanates a deep affection bordering on love for the unfortunate, beleaguered, magical Pakistan.”
The New Republic, May 5, 2011―-
his book may be described as the most informed Gazetteer on contemporary Pakistan. Instead of the too often repeated narrative of Pakistan's history and ills, he offers a broader sweep into the condition of the provinces, the climate, the political parties and their personalitiesand, in his best chapter, an important discussion of how today's Taliban represent a continuation of similar uprisings a century ago.
Dallas Morning News, May 9, 2011
Since the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last week, it's become increasingly clear that anyone hoping to follow international affairs should perhaps have begun watching that country some time ago. Fortunately, Pakistan: A Hard Country serves as an outstanding primer even reading just the introduction is supremely useful Lieven crafts a lucid and thoroughly fascinating whole from a wealth of information Lieven's writing is excellent, especially crucial in a book tackling a topic with which many readers are entirely unfamiliar. Moreover, he clearly loves the place and its people. Pakistan: A Hard Country is the work of one of those rare writers able to see his subject in all its complexity, without either turning away or becoming a partisan of one perspective or the other.”
IBN Live, May 19, 2011―-
"Yet for drama, colour and complexity, [Pakistan] is hard to beat; and Anatol Lieven captures the richness of the place wonderfully. His book has the virtues of both journalism and scholarship..."
Foreign Policy's The AfPak Channel blog, April 11, 2011
The release of Anatol Lieven's latest book, Pakistan: A Hard Country, could not be timelier. This insightful, comprehensive portrait of Pakistan is the perfect antidote to stereotypical descriptions of the country as the most dangerous place in the world Pakistan: A Hard Country has the power to dampen the paranoia about Pakistan's security complex, put terrorism in perspective, and humanize Pakistanis.”
Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011
Challenging the notion that Pakistan is fragile, Lieven presents in exquisite detail how things actually work, for better or for worse, in that hard country.'”
Evening Standard, April 21, 2011
Foreign Policy's AfPak Channel, October 13, 2011
Despite Pakistan's heterogeneity, one aspect of the country that demonstrates some homogeneity is the universal nature of the "clan-based" system of allegiance that is ingrained in most Pakistanis. This system has been recognized for some time, and was articulated recently, and most clearly, by the scholar Anatol Lieven in his book, Pakistan: A Hard Country.”
Commonweal, September 23, 2011
Lieven offers historical perspective and a coherent, nuanced picture of the strategic concerns, politics, and occasional paranoia underlying Pakistani actions The book covers a vast amount of ground and is packed with information, much of it fascinating and laden with significance for Washington policymakers.”
"A finely researched and forensic compendium A penetrating, textured study.”
All in all, Lieven presents a subtle and nuanced picture of Pakistan that draws on deep scholarship and direct personal experience. Though by far the longest and most complex of the books reviewed here, if busy policymakers have time to read just one volume, this should be it.”
SA Global Affairs―-
Irish Times, June 4, 2011
An insightful book that is part anthropological study, part reportage. Threaded throughout are the voices of ordinary Pakistanis farmers, politicians, spooks, landowners, businessmen, soldiers, judges, clerics and jihadis whose contributions in the form of direct quotes enliven and illuminate this complex yet affectionate portrait of their country. Published just before bin Laden s death, the book does not read as if it has been overtaken by events. Indeed, its textured, penetrating survey of the dynamics shaping contemporary Pakistan could hardly be more timely, given the relative dearth of literature on the subject. Lieven makes a compelling case for why we should pay more attention to what is one of the most important but least understood countries in the world.”
Small Wars Journal, June 5, 2011
Anatol Lieven has written an excellent book It is perhaps the one book to read on Pakistan in 2011, and offers a level of nuance required for those wanting to become true specialists on the complexity of Pakistan's political history.”
New York Times Book Review, June 26, 2011
Ambitious a sweeping and insightful narrative.”
Washington Times, July 7, 2011―-
Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2011
[Lieven] brings an infectious enthusiasm to his task of summarizing the workings of the world's sixth most populous country. In this quest, he ranges effortlessly from a police station in Peshawar to a politician's mansion in the Punjab to the mean streets of Karachi. He dishes up pithy observations while delving deep into the nation's history, politics, culture and institutions Mr. Lieven's eye for detail, command of subcontinental history and old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting make this in many ways an excellent primer on Pakistan.”
The Nation, July 18, 2011
Lieven has written a sensible and thorough exploration of Pakistan's political sphere Pakistan is a large subject, and an unforgivingly complicated one at that, yet Lieven manages to tackle some of its most obscure problems without losing his cool... Lieven has written a very measured book, no easy task when writing about such a hard country.”
TotalPolitics.com, summer reading guide, June 28, 2011
counter-intuitive [Lieven] argues that the question should be not why Islamist political movements are so strong in Pakistan today, but why they are so weak. Provocative.”
Kirkus, February 15, 2011
Lieven breaks down his study by specific region; considers the structures of justice, religion, the military and politics in turn; and, finally, in a skillful, insightful synthesis, addresses the history of and issues concerning the Taliban, both Pakistani and Afghani. A well-reasoned, welcome resource for Western "experts" and lay readers alike.”
Everybody nowadays seems to take a view on Pakistan. Very few know what they're talking about. Anatol Lieven is that rare observer - a scholar who writes like the best kind of foreign correspondent about a country that he takes and measures on its own terms. Pakistan, a Hard Country offers an intimate and compellingly relevant portrait of an increasingly pivotal nation to the future of the world, for better or for worse. It fills a large gap in our understanding.”
Huffington Post, April 3, 2011
Over the last decade, Lieven has been one of the smartest and most fair-minded commentators on the global situation, and in this important, very timely book, he explains the regions, classes, history, and prospects of Pakistan with equal value for both the neophyte and the expert. Based on Lieven's first-hand knowledge of the country for the past 20 years.”
Economist, April 7, 2011―-
About the Author
- Publisher : PublicAffairs; Illustrated edition (March 6, 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 608 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1610391454
- ISBN-13 : 978-1610391450
- Item Weight : 2.07 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.38 x 1.75 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #223,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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But that's me. And, I reckon that that's true of Lieven too. Meticulous in his research, & frank in his commentary - Lieven himself seems to find these rich connections, document-able, & still somehow nor summable into a whole. But that's not to take anything away from the great work that this book is. It is neatly, to the extent possible, divided in themes - introductory, evolution of Pakistan as a nation state; societal structures: justice, religion, military, politics, & then the states ending with a chapter on the Taleban. Note that economics is a glaring miss- except as a chapter in the introduction - but as you'll realize, this grouping is probably right from the point of view of what really are the defining structures in Pakistan, & economics, sadly, is not one of them.
In chapter after chapter, Lieven weaves - for writes seems terribly limiting - the Pakistani experiences together. The concepts of justice are twisted by ideas of honor, religion divides;India unites & patronages mean a more equitable income distribution at the cost of a weaker state. Radicalism & progress are both thwarted by many plural & strong identities & the commentaries of many Pakistanis - diligently documented by Lieven - either add to this complexity or illuminate depending on your own ability to connect the deluge of dots together.
There are certain attempts at humour in a largely serious work just as there is a certain amount of sympathy & empathy that emanates from Lieven about Pakistan where he seems to have spent a lot of time. This is particularly apparent to me, as an Indian, when Lieven, with some degree of regularity, compares the "negatives" in Pakistan with India, & finds them no worse than the Indian experience - & does not cite anything where India is perhaps comparatively better.
I recommend this book highly because of its nuances & details & the insights its brings. The fact that stitching these isolated insights into a coherent model of a country remains a painstaking task says more about the country than about the book.
And I would have loved to have seen more on Pakistani food, music & cricket.
taliban; jihad in central asia; descent into chaos&pakistan on the brink - the latter two focused on pakistan. this book and rashid's
books deserve 5 stars - but i leave the fifth star to experts, as my opinion is strictly that of an interested amateur. alas, the recent
attacks in and around peshawar - reportedly by taliban - on major secondary school and university tragically illustrate what challenges
both pakistan and afghanistan must cope with in continuing to build viable constitutional democratic polities to which both
countries are (heroically) committed and determined to achieve.
Anatol Lieven is admirably qualified to deal with the topic: he is both a journalist (reporting on Pakistan and Afghanistan for the London Times) and an academic/thinktank scholar. His book combines the readability and color of good journalism with the thorough research of scholarly work. It is also based on extensive interviews with many Pakistanis from all walks of life, and all regions of the country, which gives it an engrossing human dimension.
The book starts off with an overview of the Pakistani system, which he describes as "weak state, stong societies". He examines the critical role of kinship and patronage relationships, from an anthropological as well as a political view. And he briefly reviews Pakistan's history since Partition. Here, I found myself turning to Wikipedia etc. to fill in missing links, since the author's review assumed more knowledge than I had -- possibly because I'm an American, a British reader would probably be more familiar with this material.
Next, he turns to the basic structures of modern Pakistan -- justice, religion, politics, and above all the military -- devoting a chapter to each. Then, in a section which I found most useful, he devotes a chapter to each of Pakistan's provinces -- the Punjab, Sindh (and Karachi), Balochistan, and the Pathans (that is, the North West Frontier and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas). In each, he looks at the social and ethnic differences within and between regions, and at how that is reflected politically.
The final section is on the Taleban -- the Afghani Taleban, the Pakistani Taleban, and the attitude of Pakistan's people and government to both.
In his conclusion, Lieven says that "it has been above all the US-led campaign in Afghanistan which has been responsible for increasing Islamist insurgency and terrorism in Pakistan since 2001". Earlier, he has established that insurgency as perhaps the most critical problem facing Pakistan's government. U.S. policy with affect the way in which this plays out.
All in all, I found this a very informative, interesting, and readable book, which I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in South Asia, or, indeed, in US policy.
Top reviews from other countries
The insight given into the people and places as well as the culture was in depth. Here was Pakistan in all its glory though it was tarnished but you came away from the book routing for it and this was due to the author. The author didn't pull any punches but underpinning all the narrative was his genuine love and concern for the country with none of the sneering associated with western authors.
Thank you for writing this book
Students of social sciences shall find wealth of knowledge for their subjects. As a matter of fact this is how it is. People born there shall have a better idea with all the life perspective they have, that what Mr. Lieven means exactly at a number of spots. It is a complex to understand when compared with Western Societies, however, South Asian countries have this rainbow of socio-religious culture there.