Book Reviews

This section offers reviews of books written on global politics, international relations, and Pakistan.

Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven

Written by Abrish Nayyar 7:24 pm

“Pakistan: A Hard Country” is widely recommended for CSS aspirants, and the title is pretty self-explanatory. Pakistan has had more than its fair share of conflicts, disasters, upheavals, and socioeconomic crises, but has always miraculously made it through. In the book, Anatol Lieven (a visiting professor at King’s College London) analyses the various factors that have – and still are – negatively impacting the country.
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Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’

Written by Tamseel Aqdas 1:34 pm

Edited by Maleeha Lodhi and several other contributors, Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ was published in 2011. The book effectively embarks beyond terrorism and natural disasters. Instead, it addresses the country’s contemporary security dynamics, demographic pressures, energy shortages, and lack of political will.
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Anthropology and Migration by Caroline Brettell

Written by Ahmad Wadeer 6:57 pm

“Anthropology and Migration: Essays on Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and Identity” by Caroline Brettell is a collection of essays presenting a unique approach to the study of migration. While focusing on Portuguese emigration, she explores the linkages between gender and migration, and themes like transnationalism, ethnicity, and identity.
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Stealth War: How China Took Over While America’s Elite Slept

Written by Taha Amir 12:24 pm

“Stealth War” showcases a retired US Air Force officer and White House advisor’s outlook on China’s rise to great power. Robert Spalding, the author of the book, views China’s rise as a threat to the ideas and status of the US. He believes that China is using silent tactics and strategies to exert its influence across the world and counter the US, without resorting to military aggression. He discusses how Beijing has been trying to dominate every field – be it the economy, military, diplomacy, technology, education, or infrastructure.
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India and Central Asia: The Strategic Dimension

Written by Nauman Sultan 11:48 am

“India and Central Asia: The Strategic Dimension” presents an Indian diplomat’s perspective on Indian foreign policy. Phunchok Stobdan, the author of the book, analyzes the significance of Central Asia for India and the different ways of connecting the two to solidify India’s regional influence. He evaluates the security challenges in the path of linking India and Central Asia, and proposes solutions to overcome them.
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World Order by Henry Kissinger

Written by Syed Yasir Abbas Shah 12:47 pm

A book sought by CSS aspirants and students of international relations, Henry Kissinger’s World Order sets the stage by addressing the evolution of the state as a permanent and fundamental entity in conducting international relations. He puts light on the significance of the Peace of Westphalia (1648) in the first institutionalising international order among states. In so doing, Kissinger deftly explains the role of the state and its enduring legacy in structuring relations between and among the states.
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How Democracies Die

Written by Syed Yasir Abbas Shah 12:14 pm

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblett’s book “How Democracies Die” discusses what factors weaken democracy, and what ultimately causes the downfall of democracy. Reflecting on Linz’s litmus test for undemocratic politicians, the authors put light on Donald J. Trump’s political career. To save democracy, the authors put forth two ways: mutual tolerance and institutional forbearance.
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Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum by Stephen P. Cohen

Written by Haider Ali Khan 11:47 am

In “Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum,” Stephen P. Cohen analyzes the future of India-Pakistan relations. Cohen argues that even after the two rival South Asian states surpass a century since their independence, the ties between them are unlikely to normalize.
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The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations

Written by Omair Farooq Khan 12:14 pm

In “The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations,” Rebecca Schiff uses the concordance theory to better understand and explore the reason for military intervention than the traditional theory of separation which has its roots in the Western system, making it incompatible for non-Western countries. She also gives due importance to institutional development and culture in understanding the civil-military relations of a state.
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The Silent Coup: A History of India’s Deep State

Written by Saad Ahmed Toor 12:03 pm

In “The Silent Coup: A History of India’s Deep State,” Josy Joseph explains India’s democratic erosion and the role of India’s security agencies, politicians, and media in this decline. Through the case of Wahid Ali, he demonstrates how the three are intricately linked in the world’s largest democracy.
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Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism

Written by Gul-e-Zahra 12:11 pm

In “Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism,” Kacha Ilaiah Shepherd argues that inequality is embedded in Hinduism due to its Brahminic philosophy. He criticizes India’s caste system and compares India’s oppression of its minorities and lower castes with the buffalo. While the cow is revered in Hindu philosophy, the buffalo on the other hand is demonized. Ilaiah, while criticizing India’s “divide and rule” policy, calls for the construction of a new form of nationalism that promotes equality and justice.
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The Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy

Written by Danish Hameed 12:56 pm

The Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy is a comprehensive book with 50 essays about India’s foreign relations since the British Raj. Both the authors and editors of this book are prominent and leading experts in India’s international relations.
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India’s Saudi Policy: Bridge to the Future

Written by Salman Khan 12:45 pm

P.R. Kumaraswamy and Md. Muddassir Quamar’s book, India’s Saudi Policy: Bridge to the Future, explores New Delhi’s approach and policies toward Riyadh and how they have had a significant impact in reshaping bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia.
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The Nine Lives of Pakistan: Dispatches from a Precarious State (Book Review)

Written by Aamina Binte Khurram 11:47 am

In “The Nine Lives of Pakistan: Dispatches from a Precarious State,” Declan Walsh unravels his findings and life in Pakistan. He explores a nation that is full of turbulence and divide, and yet so resilient.
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Pakistan’s Perpetual Crisis and Civil-military Relations (2008-2012)

Written by Lyba Mobeen 11:47 am

Dr. Nasreen Akhtar, the author of “Pakistan’s Perpetual Crisis and Civil-military Relations (2008-2012),” critically analyzes the relationship between the civilian governments and the military in Pakistan. She examines the history of Pakistan’s civil-military relations and explains how and why the state’s military became involved in the political sphere.
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The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan (Book Review)

Written by Syed Haris Shah 12:04 pm

“The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan” provides an overview of the Soviet Union’s direct and indirect involvement in Afghanistan. Gregory Feifer, the author of the book, traces the events that led to the Soviet invasion in 1979 and analyzes the war itself. In doing so, he aptly explains the role of Pakistan in bringing the Soviet war to an end, and how the US’ uncalculated actions in Afghanistan led to intensifying extremism and terrorism.
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The Shadow Commander: Soleimani, the US, and Iran’s Global Ambitions (Book Review)

Written by Muhammad Osama Asghar 5:57 pm

Arash Azizi’s “The Shadow Commander: Soleimani, the US, and Iran’s Global Ambitions” is a wonderfully comprehensive book that honors the life of Iran’s greatest soldier, General Qasem Soleimani. Known as the Shadow Commander, General Soleimani’s life within and beyond Iran is recounted as well as the legacy he left for his people and country.
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