The Nine Lives of Pakistan
‘All those interested in South Asia and its complex politics and culture should read this book’ – Pankaj Mishra
The demise of Pakistan – a country with a reputation for volatility, brutality and radical Islam – is regularly predicted. But things rarely turn out as expected, as renowned journalist Declan Walsh knows well. Over a decade covering the country, his travels took him from the raucous port of Karachi to the gilded salons of Lahore to the lawless frontier of Waziristan, encountering Pakistanis whose lives offer a compelling portrait of this land of contradictions.
He meets a crusading lawyer who risks her life to fight for society’s most marginalised, taking on everyone including the powerful military establishment; an imperious chieftain spouting poetry at his desert fort; a roguish politician waging a mini-war against the Taliban; and a charismatic business tycoon who moves into politics and seems to be riding high – till he takes up the wrong cause. Lastly, Walsh meets a spy whose orders once involved following him, and who might finally be able to answer the question that haunts him: why the Pakistanis suddenly expelled him from their country.
Intimate and complex, unravelling the many mysteries of state and religion, this formidable book offers an arresting account of life in a country that, often as not, seems to be at war with itself.
‘Thrilling, big-hearted’ – Memphis Barker, Daily Telegraph
‘Sets a new benchmark for non-fiction about the complex palace of mirrors that is Pakistan’ – William Dalrymple
Declan Walsh describes, with intellectual power and cool elegance, a much-misunderstood country. All those interested in South Asia and its complex politics and culture should read it -- Pankaj Mishra [A] thrilling, big-hearted book ... a richly observed study of how humans respond to the extraordinary pressures of a sometimes-choking society -- Memphis Barker * Telegraph * A wonderful book that sets a new benchmark for non-fiction about the complex palace of mirrors that is Pakistan ... as profoundly nuanced as it is sharply perceptive -- William Dalrymple An irresistible combination of storytelling panache and in-depth knowledge; Declan Walsh brings vividly to life characters and situations that illuminate some of the most significant phases of Pakistan's history -- Kamila Shamsie Captivating ... What shines through is the relish with which Walsh throws himself into the far corners of Pakistan, into crowds, celebrations and rites, with a drive born of fascination with the land and its people -- Julian Borger * Guardian * Rarely have revelations about Pakistan made for such good reading -- Farzana Shaikh * Literary Review * If you want to read one book about contemporary Pakistan, it has to be The Nine Lives of Pakistan. An intimate yet sweeping account of Pakistan's contemporary history ... [it] left me breathless -- Mohammed Hanif, author of 'Red Birds' Clear-sighted and exhaustive, these dispatches paint a scrupulously layered portrait of a country that defies easy explanations * Irish Times *
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