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The Scorpion's Tail: The Relentless Rise of Islamic Militants in Pakistan-And How It Threatens America Hardcover – November 16, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pakistani journalist Hussain (Frontline Pakistan) accurately describes the U.S.-led military action in central Asia not as a war in Afghanistan but "largely a Pushtun war" happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These distinctions provide the underpinning for a remarkably comprehensive and well-researched effort. He draws a line from Indian independence, when Islamists resisted the idea of a separate Muslim state in their desire to exert power within India, giving rise to a brutal trail of extremism within Pakistan that has fully flowered in the current conflict. Hussain argues that U.S. drone attacks have provided the Pakistani Taliban with a fresh crop of recruits--many of them middle-class and well-educated, as all the while the Pakistani army continues its "creeping coup," and al-Qaeda grows increasingly organized. He knows his subject matter and gives an unflinching and objective assessment of a problem that seems to grow larger and well beyond the scope of mere military action. (Nov.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Zahid Hussain is an award-winning journalist and writer, a senior editor with Newsline and a correspondent for The Times of London, Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal. He has also covered Pakistan and Afghanistan for several other international publications, including the Associated Press (AP) and The Economist. His book Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle With Militant Islam has won widespread acclaim as a seminal text on the subject. He lives in Pakistan.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (November 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439120250
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439120255
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. R. Santhanakrishnan on December 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Zahid Hussain, senior editor at Newsline in Pakistan, has the credentials and compassion to cover issues relating to Pakistan and the prose to keep your attention riveted with brevity and analysis.

It is a waste of time to keep identifying individual leaders of terrorism and eliminate them, claims Zahid. You can cut the scorpion's tail; it would develop a new one.

Your perspective gets challenged and widened when you read Zahid Hussain.

The war in Afghanistan is a war between a state and a nation; not a state and a state. The US is at war with Pashtuns. A third of the Pashtuns are in Afghanistan (comprising 42% of the Afghan state). Two thirds of the Pashtuns are in Pakistan (comprising 15% of the Pakistan State). The Talibans are substantially Pashtuns.

Pashtuns do not care about the political boundaries between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They move freely from one to another. Pashtuns are governed more by the tribal leader at village level than by the shura council at the national level. This makes it easy for a tribal leader to hold complete sway over his terrain (and use the village for opium cultivation). This makes it quite difficult to set in place a national government that can he held accountable to good principles of governance.

The Pashtun theology is a combination of the two most radical schools of Islam: the Deobandis from India and the Wahabis from Saudi Arabia. This theology acquired political power because of two reasons: US (to settle score with Russians) and Saudi Arabia (to get the extremists in the Kingdom out of the Kingdom and be busy with something else) used theology to rally radicals to wage a proxy war. Unfair exploitation by tribal leaders and war lords seeded the need for an uprising.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up on a whim in an effort to better educate myself on the ongoing turmoil of the Middle East and the involvement of the U.S. government. It only took me a few pages to realize that like many other Americans, I knew very little about what's happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan on practically every level. Our country gets involved in so many conflicts around the world and I always find myself struggling to keep up. Sad but true. Despite the grim situation the country is in and has been for decades I found myself overwhelmed with a wealth of information. Everything from the infiltration of militants of nearly every echelon of the Pakistani government, the growing levels corruption, the repeated U.S. aid and drone strikes just to name a few. The author, Zahid Hussain, is a native of Pakistan currently living in Islamabad where he sees the internal conflict daily. As a correspondent and journalist he has interviewed top militant leaders and witnessed Pakistan's ongoing struggle first hand. Here are my thoughts on this highly thought provoking and informative book;


+ Presents pure fact and offers little to no bias or personal opinion regarding government policies and actions.

+ Details just how intricately interwoven both Afghanistan and Pakistan are with militant insurgents on nearly every level.

+ Provides numerous pros and cons for U.S. intervention in helping Pakistan fight the insurgency.

+ Explains how U.S. Drone strikes are beneficial as well as detrimental to fighting the ever-growing insurgency.

+ Book contained a map of both countries detailing the key areas discussed.
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Format: Hardcover
If you want to understand Pakistan, this is clearest account yet of what makes the situation there so dangerous. What comes through is that this is being told by someone who has been reporting the story for years - he knows the players and he's covered so many of the tragedies himself - he's really got the T-shirt. What's depressing is that it's clear that the attempt to weaken the Taliban using assassination by drones is having the opposite effect - even when they get the right people, instead of women and children, the dead leaders are just replaced, new recruits join, and even the anti Taliban public turn against the US - that's the scorpion's tail.
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This book has allowed me to see the U.S. relationship with Pakistan in a new light. We too often believe the mass media in every news story about what is going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan but not the people who haved lived through it. The Scorpion's Tail is a great read with a little more insight to the history of US/Afghan/Pakistan relations and the amount of support the insurgency is getting from a nation that is given so much international funding from the U.S. specifically. Good read and thank you.
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Excellent book! This is a great read for all knowledge levels of Middle East relations. If you don't have much knowledge of the Middle East and our relations with Pakistan this will completely fill you in not only what is happening currently but also the 20th century. It is also a great book if you are well educated in current affairs and find yourself somewhat frustrated with Pakistan and question why they do not do more to help Allied Coalition forces in the destruction of the Taliban on the Af-Pak border. It definitely changed my opinion of Pakistan as our allies and gave me a different review and respect for them, especially after realizing they have been at war with terrorism right there with us, but in their own country. Also, not sure if the book was updated but some of the reviews I read before I bought the book complained about it being hard to remember locations and regions throughout the entirety of the book. My book came with a map of Pakistan and important surrounding regions right in the beginning so it was a great help to occassionally flip back to and put the pieces together. Would recommend this book to anyone interested in everything going on in our world today.
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