A dogged reporter and fluid writer offers a glimpse inside a seemingly impenetrable country, a "land of broken maps.”



Working back from when he was mysteriously expelled from Pakistan in 2013, journalist Walsh portrays the paroxysms that regularly grip this troubled country.

From 2004 to 2013, the author lived in Pakistan as a journalist for the Guardian and then the New York Times, and he witnessed numerous tumultuous changes within the country, which has been ruled by the military for a large part of its history since the Partition from India in 1947. Relations between the countries soured, and Pakistan has been mired in corruption and violence for decades—a situation at odds with its name, which means “Land of the Pure.” Pakistan was in the global spotlight during Benazir Bhutto's two terms as prime minister (1988-1990 and 1993-1996), but the nation’s "fairy tale" period devolved after lurid revelations of her family's freewheeling corruption, and she was assassinated in 2007. After 9/11, Pakistan was excoriated by the Bush administration for harboring Taliban refugees and jihadi terrorists, in particular Osama bin Laden. In search of the country's profound sense of contradiction ("the cruel, ugly and downright terrifying side of Pakistan”), Walsh diligently investigates the character of a variety of relevant individuals, including Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who, “fearing Hindu domination, sought to create a Muslim homeland”; a fundamentalist who directed a "Waco-style siege in the heart of sleepy Islamabad,” spouting jihadi slogans; Asma Jahangir, the “doyenne of Pakistan’s human rights movement” who met the ruling generals head-on; and businessman and liberal politician Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated for supporting a persecuted Christian woman’s cause. Walsh also digs intriguingly into the mystery of the insurgencies that persistently plague the province of Balochistan. In 2018, an ex-spy finally revealed to the author why he was actually expelled. Some readers may wish for an epilogue or afterword that brings the story up to the present, but overall, this is a well-written, journalistically sound report.

A dogged reporter and fluid writer offers a glimpse inside a seemingly impenetrable country, a "land of broken maps.”

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-24991-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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