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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (194 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ahmed Rashid Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2012 ISBN: 9781455865086
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What are the possibilities—and hazards—facing America as it withdraws from Afghanistan and reviews its long engagement in Pakistan? Where is the Taliban now in both of these countries? What does the immediate future hold, and what are America’s choices going forward? These are some of the crucial questions that Ahmed Rashid—Pakistan’s preeminent journalist—takes on in this follow-up to his acclaimed Descent into Chaos.

The escalation of the war in Afghanistan has deepened a long-standing crisis in its neighbor to the east. Pakistan’s political and military leadership has exhibited neither the courage nor the will to carry out major reforms in the country’s foreign and economic policies. The Pakistani state still fosters many extremist jihadi fighters, even as the Pakistani Taliban directly threaten that very state. Social services are near collapse, law enforcement is abysmal, economic hardship is widespread, natural disasters occur with little government assistance, and the majority of the population has no security. During the first years of the Obama administration, the critical U.S.-Pakistan relationship has been in a state of virtual meltdown. American strategy has reflected contradictory policies, intense political infighting, and uncertainty about U.S. aims in the region.

All parties to the conflict in Afghanistan and to the deterioration in Pakistan have made terrible mistakes, acting with arrogance, hubris, rigidity, and stubbornness. While struggles for democracy are occurring in countries that have hitherto known nothing but dictatorship, South and Central Asia, the birthplace of Al Qaeda, remains beset by extremist groups and nuclear weapons. Yet Afghanistan and Pakistan have a greater impact on global stability than anywhere else, and the decisions made by America and the West in the coming years about Pakistan will affect the security and safety of the world.

For three decades, Ahmed Rashid has reported, written, and spoken about the wars and political events he has witnessed and has been lauded internationally for his levelheaded, informed insights. As an up-to-date briefing from one of the world’s leading experts, and as an exhortation toward peace and understanding, Pakistan on the Brink is Rashid’s most urgent book.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Rashid] literally wrote the book on the Taliban and now has added a superb work on the future of Pakistan…Rashid argues that there is a complex syndicate of jihadi terrorists operating today in Pakistan and Afghanistan…and [he] does a great job of describing how the Pakistani army and the ISI helped build this Frankenstein’s monster over the past four decades.”

    Washington Post

  • “Through Ahmed Rashid’s eloquent, incisive, objective, and fact-based descriptions of events and blunders repeatedly committed by the Afghan, Pakistani, and American establishments, the reader gets a great understanding of the genesis of the quagmire for which President Obama has coined the phrase AfPak.”

    Louisville Courier-Journal

  • “Ahmed Rashid’s latest work provides essential insights for anyone who hopes to understand what’s going on in Central Asia and the alternative futures that stretch out before it.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • “A clear-headed, sobering look at a country whose ties with the US are becoming ever more frayed.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Insightful…Readers will welcome this insider’s lucid, expert account of a disaster in the making.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Nonfiction
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title” for Nonfiction, March 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fatima | 2/17/2014

    " Had to skim this to make it all the way through. Very informative book about recent events - lots of insider information reported. The whole country is such a sad mess and things look like they will only get worse so it's not an uplifting read. I wouldn't mind reading a yearly update from the author on the region - it's hard to make sense of what is going on over there by following news articles which focus on individual events without the broad framework. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert J. | 2/10/2014

    " Not as good as Descent into Chaos, more of an updating series of articles. Good information, though. And very depressing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arun | 1/27/2014

    " This book is a reality check for our mission in Afghanistan. The author credits Obama with spending more money on economic and social development in Afghanistan than Bush did during his entire 8 years in office. At the same time, the author criticizes Obama for giving short shrift to Richard Holbrooke's pleas to focus on Afghan nation-building. Instead, the author says a novice president dithered for months about how many troops to send in before settling on about 30,000 with a phased withdrawal to begin in summer 2012. The problem? Two-fold. First, 97% of Afghanistan's current economy is dependent on foreign armed forces, so experts predict that Afghanistan could be headed toward a depression when the U.S. pulls out. Second, other countries in the region are jockeying for influence in Afghanistan because they feel the U.S. policy is to exit Afghanistan as soon as possible (as indicated by the phased withdrawal dates). This creates an adversarial climate when cooperation is needed. I learned the most during the sections of this book that dealt with Afghanistan, but some of the criticisms in this book were unfair. For example, the author blames Obama for not meeting Karzai first during a visit to Afghanistan. Also, he blames Obama for not espousing on the stories of Afghan people during speeches. Finally, he blames the U.S. for not adopting the correct strategy during the surge in Afghanistan (even though the author is a journalist, not a military tactician). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe Miguez | 1/21/2014

    " Substance-wise, this is a great summary of the current situation in Af/Pak for those with at least some knowledge about the area and the history of the region. It's not a book for beginners, but it's also not so deep that one couldn't dive in after, say, reading a few Wikipedia articles about the modern history of Afghanistan and of Af/Pak and India/Pakistan relations. Form-wise, while Rashid says right up front that the book was intended as a series of eight essays that could be picked up and started fresh at any one of them, the book still felt hastily assembled and disorganized. I caught a few obvious typos, and a few other places with seemingly conflicting statistics or contradictory information. I started reading Rashid's much more comprehensive "Descent Into Chaos" (to which this book repeatedly refers) a year or so ago, and recall it being much better written and organized than this one. If anything, this book feels like it was hastily assembled in reaction to some event (the anticipated collapse of the Zardari government, perhaps? The U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan?). Rashid knows this stuff better than just about anyone, so it's worth a read. But if you're looking for actual quality writing on the region, pick up Dexter Filkins's "The Forever War"...or, for that matter, either of Rashid's previous books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charlie Dell | 1/18/2014

    " As always, Rashid is both a blunt realist and a perceptive observer. No one he mentions in this book comes out very well, least of all the Pakistanis, but also Obama and Bush are criticized (justly) with great harshness. I always learn reading his books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 12/18/2013

    " Well, I'm glad I read this, but it was less comfortable than keeping my head in the sand. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melinda | 12/15/2013

    " Each chapter in this book is an essay on its own about the volatile situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was worthwhile to read a viewpoint from the author, who is a Pakistani native educated in England. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shoaib Mehmood | 12/11/2013

    " A good interwoven analysis of the foreign policies of Pakistan, Afghanistan and United State and thorough analysis of the domestic conditions of AfPak. Ahmed Rashid maintains his impartiality and shows the War on Terror in Af-Pak through a very objective perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ole Phillip | 8/26/2013

    " If not the best work of Ahmed Rashid, this is still a fascinating read. It reads very well and is keeping you wanting more. Looking forward to the next book from Rashid. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie G | 7/25/2013

    " Quite sobering -- a must-read for anyone wishing to understand where we are and what options exist for future relations with Pakistan (and Afghanistan, for that matter). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 10/20/2012

    " In summary: everything is terrible and getting progressively worse. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 False Millennium | 10/18/2012

    " I've spent the summmer reading up on the Middle East. I would recommend this book as part of that group for gaining greater understanding of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the troubled relationship with America and the world. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carole | 9/3/2012

    " Interesting, timely, not hopeful about the future or America making a difference. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom Hodgson | 3/30/2012

    " Terrifying. A compelling book on the horribly and disastrously high potential for Pakistan to continue to mismanage its various internal and external crises. "

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About the Author
Author Ahmed Rashid

Ahmed Rashid has been a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Daily Telegraph for more than twenty years, reporting on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.  He appears regularly on international TV and radio networks such as CNN and BBC World. He lives in Lahore, Pakistan, with his wife and two children.

About the Narrator

Arthur Morey has won three AudioFile Magazine “Best Of” Awards, and his work has garnered numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and placed him as a finalist for the Audie Award. He has acted in a number of productions, both Off-Broadway in New York and Off-Loop in Chicago. He graduated from Harvard and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He has won awards for his fiction and drama, worked as an editor with several book publishers, and taught literature and writing at Northwestern University. His plays and songs have been produced in New York, Chicago, and Milan, where he has also performed.