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Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within Hardcover – May 23 2008


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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Comprehensive and Detailed Dec 30 2010
By J. Chang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a great book on Pakistan and it's history. I've read several over the past few months including "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military", "Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons", "Descent into Chaos", "The Duel", "Military Inc." and "Pakistan Deep Inside the World's Most Frightening State".

This is the most comprehensive-detailed account of the history of Pakistan and fills in a lot of history that was skimmed over in some of these other works. I consider it an essential part of anyone trying to learn, in depth, about the nation.

However, all of these books share 2 common issues for Westerners though.

1. These works all sorely lack maps and graphical representation of data. This title and many like it are presenting a tremendous amount of information about a region and people that many of the readers are not in any way familiar with. I find I need to keep Google maps open and make copious notes while reading these titles just to keep track of some of the events, especially when they describe battles...

Also some charts laying out the power structure of the government and the relations between the political parties, mullahs and military would've made understanding some of the information a lot easier to comprehend.

2. More pictures of the people/places being discussed in context. I understand these are scholarly texts but modern printing technology affords these writers many bells and whistles that were not available to their predecessors. Knowledge transfer would definitely be improved by some of the above mentioned features.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Essential reading in understanding Pakistan Aug. 11 2008
By Charles P. Oconnor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Anyone with a true desire to understand our essential, yet phlegmatic, ally in the Mideast should take the time to read and reflect on this comprehensive history of the complicated relationship between the Pakistan Army and the governments of Pakistan and the US. It is a true insiders view carefully researched and presented. It is not light reading but important in it's insights as we continue to define the US role in this area of the world. I wish it had been available to our leaders in 2002.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Crossed Swords June 29 2009
By C. M. Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is not suitable for light reading due to the amount of detail, but it is an excellent reference. I have found that when the name of a politician or military leader appears in the papers I can look him up in this book and get a rough bio. It is a thorough Who's Who of Pakistan since its inception.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Authoritative study of the Pakistani Army April 22 2012
By Mark Stokle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Weighing in at nearly 600 pages, this is the best in-depth examination of Pakistan's army I have come across. Mr. Nawaz is the brother of Asif Nawaz, the former Chief of Army Staff who died in mysterious circumstances in 1993. His study provides an insider's view of the Pakistani military, and displays extensive knowledge of that institution. The book is arranged chronologically, and presents a detailed history of military affairs since Pakistan's independence. This is a long and complicated story; and it is not intended for readers who are newcomers to the subject. However, those who seek a more profound understanding of Pakistan will find this work invaluable.

Nawaz discusses a wide range of topics which have been poorly recorded by western historians. The 1947 and 1965 Indo-Pakistan Wars over Kashmir are explained in detail. Of particular interest is his analysis of the 1971 war and the crisis leading to the birth of Bangladesh (Sheikh Mujib's civil disobedience movement, "Operation Searchlight", and India's intervention). This bloody episode and its repercussions are crucial to understanding the modern history of the region.

The book is also excellent at describing how the Pakistani military progressively took power from the political establishment after independence. The different stages of this process are well-documented by the author. He notes the unresolved murder of Pakistan's first PM, Liaqat Ali Khan, and reviews Ayub Khan's military coup in 1958. Khan combined the offices of president and prime minister in a new constitution which was rubber-stamped by the judiciary (the "Doctrine of Necessity"). Nawaz vividly chronicles the struggle for power between Zia ul-Haq and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The ascent of Zia, execution of Bhutto, and rise of fundamentalism in the security services, are all depicted as landmark events that consolidated the army's hold over power. The ensuing transition from an overt military dictatorship to a facade of 'parliamentary democracy' is well explained, and covers the administrations of Benazir Bhutto (whose later assassination is noted but not discussed), Nawaz Sharif, and Pervez Musharraf. "Crossed Swords" also draws attention to the army's international relations, and provides an excellent discussion of Pakistan's nuclear program and its mastermind: A.Q. Khan.

Furthermore, Nawaz shows the military to be a complex institution that often stands in stark contrast to Pakistani society. It's leadership is mostly secular, well-educated and extremely wealthy. In sum, the very opposite of the average man on the street. It is riddled with competing factions who value ethnic and community ties above loyalty to the state. To achieve its great wealth and political influence, the army has forged foreign alliances and indulged in widespread corruption. The author draws attention to how pensions, real estate, and military contracts play an essential role in the army's racketing of state funds. He also emphasizes the importance of the military's political propaganda, and how the armed forces repeatedly pass themselves off as the guardians of Jinnah's legacy.

In conclusion, "Crossed Swords" is an impressively well-researched and authoritative study. In my opinion, it's one of the most important works on Pakistan's military history in years. Given the all-powerful influence of the army in Pakistani society, this book should be considered essential reading.
Well written and in-depth. April 9 2014
By Casey D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent anthology on Pakistan's Army since the birth of the nation. A must-read for anyone studying Pakistan and its Army.


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