This entry in a wonderfully useful series focuses on the second modern nation founded as a religious homeland, which is also the first Muslim country with an admitted nuclear capability.
The name is revealing--"Pakistan,'' meaning "Land of the Pure,'' also comprises the country's components: Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sind, Baluchistan. Created after World War II, it has a long, violent past (the official language, Urdu, was born as a soldiers' argot) and a restless present. Neatly avoiding judgmental statements (though he does assign responsibility for birth control solely to women), the journalist author perceptively describes the complex political, economic, and religious tensions that coexist with a robust cultural and family life, making frequent comparisons to bring his subject home ("Punjabis, like many New Yorkers, often enjoy the use of strong language for its own sake'').
The appended list of Pakistani books, films, and videos is fleetingly brief, but that's a minor flaw in a solid, wide-ranging survey. (Nonfiction. 12+)