A bleak, disturbing picture of a country of strategic importance to American foreign policy.

SONGS OF BLOOD AND SWORD

A DAUGHTER’S MEMOIR

A memoir/political history of Pakistan’s famous feuding political dynasty, penned by a young family member whose father, grandfather, uncle and aunt all met violent deaths.

Afghan-born Pakistani poet and writer Bhutto begins with the career of her grandfather, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was assassinated in 1979. The focus of the book, however, is on the life and career of her father, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, a Western-educated political exile determined to avenge the death of his father, and whose return to Pakistan in 1993 challenged the regime of his sister Benazir Bhutto, then prime minister. The author’s early memories of her aunt are tender, but over time her views altered sharply and she now places moral responsibility for her father’s death—he was shot by Pakistani police in 1996—on her aunt and Benazir’s husband, current Pakistan president Asif Zardari. To gather information and photographs, the author searched through family diaries and letters, official documents and newspaper reports, and interviewed old friends, family, acquaintances and political associates, not only in Pakistan but in Europe and across Asia. She includes excerpts from her grandfather’s and her father’s letters to their children, and a more-than-generous number of family photos, both formal and candid. If Bhutto is tough on certain family members, she is equally so on her country, “a nuclear-armed state that cannot run refrigerators,” and on its largest city, Karachi, “overcrowded, underdeveloped, and poor,” with a police force “perpetually violent and corrupt.” According to the author, the United States has long interfered in Pakistani politics, sending billions of dollars to support criminal regimes for its own political and economic advantage, and currently sending drones that kill innocent schoolchildren in the name of the fight against terrorists. Bhutto is sure she knows who the bad guys are, and she does not hesitate to name them. She provides vivid portraits of life in an extended upper-class family and of enduring bloody feuds, brutality and death, but fair-and-balanced reporting is not on offer in this highly personal account by a journalist on a mission.

A bleak, disturbing picture of a country of strategic importance to American foreign policy.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-56858-632-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more