This book fills the need for a broad, historically sophisticated understanding of Pakistan, a country which is understood by many in the West only in terms of stereotypes-the fanatical, authoritarian and reactionary 'other' which is unfavourably compared to a tolerant, democratic and progressive India. Pakistan is in reality a complex plural society which although greatly shaped by the colonial inheritance and circumstances of its birth, is also experiencing rapid change. Talbot's approach breaks down stereotypes and assists in answering the vexed question of why democracy has succeeded in India, while Pakistan has been subject to long periods of authoritarianism during its five decades of existence. He brings the story of Pakistan right up to date and discusses the rise of jihadi militancy, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the resilience of its people in the face of military dictatorship and ecomic hardship.
Ian Talbot is Professor of History at Southampton University, one of Europe's leading historians of South Asia, and the author of many books on the sub-continent.